Children are curious and active. In the blink of an eye they go from infant to toddler to seasoned explorer with insatiable curiosity, pulling up on the TV stand or scaling the dresser to reach something interesting on top.
While the furniture in your home may not seem like a danger zone, it has the potential to cause serious injury to your child. Every year, almost 15,000 children visit the emergency room for injuries from furniture tip-overs. That’s one child per half hour.
When children pull themselves up or climb on chairs, cabinets, bookshelves, desks, tables, and dressers, there is the risk of injury causing tip-over. Also, modern flat screen TVs are fascinating attention getters for children, and they can tip easily if not properly anchored.
Here are “Five Myths About Furniture Tip-Overs” from the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS):
Myth #1: The dresser is so heavy, it will not tip over. The dresser might have been heavy for the movers or the furniture delivery people. However, that dresser is still a hazard for a young child. When a child opens the drawers and climbs on them, even a heavy dresser or other type of furniture can fall on a child. When the drawers are opened, the center of gravity changes and the furniture could tip over, with or without someone climbing.
Myth #2: We do not need to anchor the dresser in our bedroom because our children do not play in our room. Tip-over injuries can happen very quickly. Children may wander into a room when you do not expect it, even under close supervision. Anchor the furniture in master bedrooms and other rooms, not just the nursery or playroom.
Myth #3: We latched the drawers so the dresser is now safe. Cabinet latches are designed to prevent access to cabinets and drawers for babies and young toddlers. Cabinet latches ARE NOT designed to replace furniture anchors. Eventually, children will learn to defeat latches and the dresser will still be a tip-over risk. A three-year-old might be able to defeat many cabinet latches but is still at risk for a serious tip-over injury if he or she climbs on a dresser.
Myth #4: Older children know not to climb. Children do not think about a dresser or a bookcase being something that could harm them. They climb to reach something they want on the top of the furniture. Often, drawers are used like a ladder so the child can reach an item that is too high for them. Even if you have explained that climbing is dangerous to your toddler or preschooler, a parent should not trust that a curious child will remember their safety lesson.
Myth #5: We purchased a safe sturdy dresser and bookcase from a great furniture store. ALL TYPES of furniture pose a hazard, including discounted furniture and high-quality furniture, tall bookcases and short bookcases, short chests with drawers, tall dressers, armoires, furniture with shelves and/or doors and more. Anchor furniture, and consider pieces with drawers to be extra risky, even if the piece only has one drawer.
Don’t be lulled into thinking your child or your home is different. Secure your furniture! Here are “6 Tips for Installing Furniture Restraints to Prevent Tip-overs” from the IAFCS:
- Purchase furniture anchors. Purchase furniture restraints, also called furniture anchors or tethers, from safety specialists. Not all devices are created equally. Your furniture might have come with small plastic cable ties but we do not recommend you use them (the plastic can degrade and break over time or they may not be appropriate for forces applied in a tip-over). L brackets (angle braces) and earthquake anchoring products work well for some furniture.
- Use two for each piece of furniture. Plan on using at least two restraints per piece of furniture. Wide pieces of furniture might need additional restraints. For stacked pieces of furniture, anchor the top piece (e.g., hutch, additional bookcase, etc.) to the base and then anchor to the wall.
- Install into solid wood. Ensure the restraints are installed into a solid piece of wood on the back (or the top) of the furniture. You will find that some furniture has very thin pieces of wood or other materials on the back that would not be able to hold a screw.
- Attach anchor to a wall stud. Use a wood stud (stud finders are available to assist you in locating them). DO NOT attach a product with plastic drywall anchors. You may need to adjust the size of the screw that you are using to ensure it is installed securely into the stud.
- Ensure restraints are tight and regularly check them. Many products require the installer to tighten them during the last step of installation. There should not be slack in the furniture strap/anchor.
- Consider hiring a professional childproofer to help. They are experienced and very familiar with the proper installation of furniture restraints.
Here is a helpful infographic about anchoring your TV.
Here is a general checklist by age to aid in childproofing your home. Select (click) the image for a clearer view or to download your own copy.
Do your research. Take action. Childproof your home. Protect your child.
Hope you find this information useful!