It doesn’t take long for a curious toddler to climb onto a dresser, book shelf or try to get the remote off the TV, sometimes with tragic consequences. Forty children are taken in the ER daily in the United States with injuries due to a heavy piece of furniture falling on them. Almost half of these injuries are caused from TVs. Tragically, one child dies every 2 weeks from being crushed under a TV, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. These injuries occur when a child falls near an unstable piece of furniture, causing it to topple on them, or when they try to climb on to furniture or TVs, trying to reach something enticing like the remote control. The most devastating injuries can be injuries to the brain or when I child gets pinned underneath a heavy piece of furniture and suffocates.
Parents can help prevent these injuries by anchoring televisions and heavy furniture like dressers and book shelves to the wall. Even though older boxy TVS are heavy, they are still unstable since they have most of their weight in front. This makes them easier to topple. New flat screen TVs have their weight more evenly distributed but are usually much larger and can easily tip if not secured.
Keep in mind with dressers, kids will pull out drawers to use as steps to climb, so even a shorter dresser can topple and fall on them.
The AAP offers these tips to help keep kids safe from furniture and TV tip overs:
- All dressers, book cases, entertainment units, TVs stands and TV anchors need to be securely anchored, preferable to a wall stud. You can secure these heavy hazards with braces, brackets, anchors or wall straps.
- TVs should be placed on low sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV
- Do not put TV on top of furniture not designed for TV placement, like dressers, because they can tip over more easily, and the child can pull out the drawers.
- Push the TV as far back as possible from the front of the stand. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer on how to anchor it.
- Remove tempting items like remotes or toys from the top of the TV or furniture.
- Be extremely watchful in others’ homes, like grandparents or adults without children, that may not have furniture secured
It only takes a few seconds for a potentially tragic accident to happen, but a few safety measures can help protect your child from these preventable injuries.
By Eileen Jekot, MD, pediatrician, ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Neenah.