Prevent tipping furniture from injuring children

WASHINGTON — The nation’s emergency physicians handle tragic situations too often, but few things are more upsetting than the sudden death of a child – killed by a piece of a furniture, appliance or a television falling on them. 

“It can happen in a matter of seconds probably in anyone’s home,” said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Every parent or guardian of a young child should look around their homes and imagine what could tip over, fall off walls and injure a child. Imagining it is better than it becoming a reality.”

About 43,000 people annually were treated in emergency departments between 2009 and 2011 as a result of objects tipping over (such as televisions, dressers, file cabinets, large appliances,) according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Sixty percent of those emergency visits were from children. Two-hundred-ninety-four children died in that time span – ranging from one-month to 8-years-old. 

Recently, two sisters in Pennsylvania – ages 2 and 3 – were both killed when a dresser toppled on them.  

How to prevent injuries or fatalities:

Properly secure all furniture (especially with shelves, drawers and doors) to walls and remove furniture that is top-heavy and cannot be secured. Check with home improvement stores or child retail stores and ask experts what they recommend.

• Secure all computer monitors.

• Keep television and computer equipment low to the ground.

• Do not place any objects on top of a television.

• Place heavy and often-used items low to the ground.

• Secure or remove artwork that could potentially fall and injure a child, like a sculpture or large painting.

• Secure appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and microwaves, from tipping over.

• Make sure a mounted televisions is in a place that’s out of reach for a young child.

• Put up safety gates to keep young children from rooms that have may have greater risks.

“Telling a child not to touch or climb on something is not enough, said Dr. Rosenau. “You must take the first steps to prevent tragedy from happening in your home – by childproofing each room they are in.”

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