Even brand-new moms know to put those plastic things in electrical outlets and to child-proof cupboards that contain hazardous materials. What is less well known, however, is that the furniture in your home creates an enormous hazard to toddlers who love nothing more than to throw open dresser drawers to facilitate their scrambling and climbing endeavors.
In January, NBC News posted a horrifying video of two Utah toddlers doing just that. Thankfully, the outcome for these munchkins wasn’t disastrous, but it has been for more than 40 children in the past 27 years, according to foxnews.com. Six of those children were killed when furniture toppled over on them, trapping them underneath.
In fact, the federal government claims that “Every 24 minutes, tipped furniture or a falling TV sends an injured child to the emergency room.”
In June of last year, Swedish retailer Ikea recalled 29 million chests and dressers which, if not anchored to a wall, pose “a tip-over and entrapment hazard that can result in death or injuries to children.”
Preventing furniture tip-overs is easy and inexpensive.
Secure the TVs
A child in pursuit of his or her favorite cartoon program will stop at nothing to get that TV turned on. This may include using the drawers of the TV stand as a ladder. The experts at anchorit.gov suggest using sturdy furniture to hold the CRT TV or, even better, something that sits low to the floor so the child won’t need to climb to reach the power button. Flat-screen TVs should be mounted to the wall securely.
If you must keep the TV up high, anchor it to the wall to prevent it from tipping and falling.
All bookcases, dressers, appliances and other items a toddler may climb should be securely anchored into a wall stud. You can purchase furniture anchors and restraints at large hardware retailers, baby supply stores (such as Babies”R”Us) and at big-box department stores. If you are anchoring Ikea furniture, the retailer offers anchor kits free of charge.
Safety experts suggest that you avoid restraints that utilize plastic cable ties as these can degrade over time and aren’t quite as strong as one might think. Use angle braces, such as those used for earthquake safety.
Don’t skimp on the number of braces used, either. Use at least two for each appliance or piece of furniture and install them into a thick, solid piece of wood near the top of the item and then into a wall stud. Ikea offers a “wall anchoring guide” on the company’s website.
Follow up on your safety precautions by checking the restraints on a monthly basis to ensure they remain tight.
Additional Safety Considerations
Busy parents know how easy it is to scoop up a toy and stick it on top of a tall piece of furniture until it can be put in its proper place. Frighteningly, it takes only seconds for a toddler to notice it, become curious and start climbing to reach it. Avoid temptations – put away items that may cause curiosity or, if they are toddler-appropriate, place them at kid-level.
Hide electrical cords or place them out of the reach of your children.
Kids love to explore and, with just a few dollars and a half hour of your time, they can do so safely in the home.