When we tell our children to stop climbing on the furniture because it’s not a playground, we are, indeed, correct. Furniture, despite its everyday use, can be a potential danger zone for children. Did you know, on average, one child dies every two weeks when a TV or piece of furniture falls onto him or her?
Now, you may think I’m an alarmist, but I wasn’t until Ikea recalled thousands of dressers for tipping over and crushing small children. It was horrifying. I read the news reports and ended up clicking through to a video created by a nonprofit meant to educate parents on the dangers of falling furniture.
After this eye-opening and somewhat disturbing video, which used mannequins to represent children, I sent my husband to the hardware store. I told him we needed to buy a few simple, inexpensive wall brackets to anchor all the potentially hazardous furniture in house. It took no time at all, and I slept much better that night.
Like so many parents, it turns out I underestimate the dangers of, well, a dresser. In fact, my husband’s earliest memory is of a bookcase falling on him. His parents took him to the Emergency room. Thankfully, he was fine, but it’s an event he has not forgotten.
Myth 1: Dressers and bookcases are too heavy to fall over
Sure, they are heavy, but children are notorious for opening the drawers of a dresser or using bookcase shelves as steps. When they do this, they change the center of gravity, making it more likely that the furniture will tip.
Myth 2: Older kids don’t climb
While it’s tempting to think kids stop climbing around age 5 or 6, it’s simply not true. Just the other day, I caught my 10-year-old climbing some furniture because she didn’t want to wait to ask me to reach something for her. Reinforce with your older children that they should never climb furniture, but also you should anchor furniture.
Myth 3: My child will ask for my help to reach something
As I mentioned above, my older child didn’t wait to ask, and it’s more likely that smaller children will do the same. As kids attempt to express their independence, they might be more willing to try and get their desired object themselves. A simple solution is to move all tempting items to a safe, reachable level or out of their eyesight all together. For example, if a favorite book is up on bookcase, place it in a floor basket.
Myth 4: Only dressers and bookcases are potentially hazardous
We usually think of only dressers or bookcases as risks, but all furniture and some electronics can tip depending on the situation. Televisions and computers, for example, are at high-risk for tipping and are extremely heavy. Think outside the box when assessing your home. What is a risk? Get down on your child’s level. Think ahead and secure everything. Don’t forget to anchor furniture in your own bedroom, guest room or office, as well. It only takes a few minutes for furniture to fall.
For more information on how to properly anchor furniture, check out anchorit.gov. Their tagline says it best: The threat is serious, but the solution is simple.