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Anchor your TVs and furniture

Reviewed By: Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children program manager (Last Updated: February 14, 2012)

Kristi Skeeters never imagined that a television, used in most households daily, could permanently alter her family's life, all in a split second.

A little more than four years ago, her infant niece was just learning to walk and passed by a television that was not stable. It toppled onto her. The niece passed away due to head trauma.

Skeeters, who is a volunteer at the Safety Store at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, shares her family's story hoping to prevent other families from having to experience similar heartache.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that every year more children are being hurt or suffer life-threatening injuries caused by furniture and television tip overs. The agency estimates that 20,000 children are treated each year at emergency rooms for injuries related to instability of televisions, furniture and appliances.

"TVs are something we set up on top of things, and we don't think about them," said Skeeters. "It happened in a split second, and our lives changed forever. It's something that can be prevented with a few measures."

Overwhelmingly, children 5 and younger account for most of the tip-over injuries. Although, between 2000 and 2010, the CPSC found more than 245 fatalities were children under age 8. The CPSC says that every two weeks a child dies when a TV or piece of furniture falls on them.

"Dressers, book shelves, entertainment units and TVs are most typically involved in furniture tip-overs onto young children," said Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children Program manager. "These injuries are often devastating or life-ending - often the child is crushed by the weight of the item or they suffer serious brain injuries."

Most of the fatalities that occur involve TVs that fall onto children. Each year, the injury numbers continue to increase.

Haverstick said the reasons for the increase are unclear.

"My assumption would be that flat-screen TVs have become more affordable and accessible to consumers," she said. "TVs also continue to get larger - and while the flat screen TVs may seem lighter weight than the old tube TVs, they are still incredibly dangerous to a small child and can easily be pulled over." 

Haverstick offered the following tips to keep children safe:

  • Do not place toys, stuffed animals, or other items that are attractive to your child on top of furniture. Keep toys at their level to prevent children from attempting to climb up furniture to reach something.
  • Always attach furniture to the wall. Book shelves and dressers in your child's room should be securely attached to the wall - even if the dresser seems too big/heavy for the child to move it. Once you start opening drawers, even large dressers become very front heavy - and open drawers make for an inviting staircase for young children.
  • Always strap or mount TVs to the wall - and strap the entertainment unit to the wall as well. Large TVs are one of the biggest risks for falling onto a child.
  • If you do not mount the TV directly to the wall, consider placing it on a lower stand, still strapping the stand to the wall and then pushing the TV as far back on the stand as possible - and securely attaching the TV to the stand.
  • Always supervise children around furniture or TVs that have potential to tip over.

Straps that are used to attach furniture to the walls are available for purchase for $2.85 per pack (two in a pack) at the Safety Store on the second floor of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

More information is also available on the CPSC website

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