(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – From covering electrical outlets to blocking access to stairs, parents do a lot to ensure their homes are safe for their children. But a new study finds an often overlooked household danger injures thousands of children each year, despite current safety standards. The study found that 560,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments for injuries caused by furniture or TV tip-overs during the 30-year study period, with children under 6 accounting for 70 percent of those injuries.
“Young children often see dressers and other types of furniture as climbing opportunities. They pull out a drawer and use it as a step, and that often leads to the furniture tipping over on top of them. This can result in very serious injuries and even death,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and senior author of the study. “The study found that children under 6 were at an especially high risk of injury to the head and neck. In fact, they were twice as likely to suffer a concussion or closed head injury than older children.”
Parents can help prevent injuries by using devices designed to anchor furniture and TVs to the wall to prevent them from tipping over. Removing objects from the top of furniture, such as toys or stuffed animals, that might tempt a child to climb or pull themselves up to reach them, is also important.
“While straps and anchors are absolutely important and parents should use them, we need to do much more to prevent these injuries. That’s why we need manufacturers to step up and make their products more stable to begin with,” Smith said.
Current voluntary stability standards do not account for common household conditions like carpeted surfaces or drawers filled with objects or clothing. Additionally, manufacturers often do not include wall anchor devices with clothing storage furniture at the point of sale, even though this is required by existing standards. Even when they are included, parents may be hesitant to drill holes in their wall or may not have the necessary tools or skills to install these devices. Experts are now calling on manufacturers and policymakers to adopt stronger safety requirements for furniture stability that will help prevent future tragedies from tip-overs.