Study: Furniture and TV tip-overs send a child to a U.S. emergency department every 46 minutes

Experts say current standards are inadequate, call for strengthened mandates for stability and injury prevention

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Furniture can quickly become dangerous when kids climb or pull themselves up to reach something. Experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommend that parents remove objects that could tempt small children to climb up to reach them and to anchor furniture and TVs to the wall to prevent them from tipping over.

(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.

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Furniture can quickly become dangerous when kids climb or pull themselves up to reach something. Experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommend that parents remove objects that could tempt small children to climb up to reach them and to anchor furniture and TVs to the wall to prevent them from tipping over.

A new study by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found a child is treated in a U.S. emergency department for a furniture or TV tip-over injury every 46 minutes. Installing devices that anchor furniture and TVs to the wall to prevent them from tipping over can keep kids safer at home.

A new study by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found children younger than 6 years are at the highest risk of being injured by tipping furniture and TVs and are twice as likely to sustain a concussion or closed head injury from a tip-over than older children.

Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, led a study at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital that found that thousands of children are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year for injuries caused by furniture and TV tip-overs despite existing safety standards. Smith and his colleagues are calling for stronger stability standards to prevent future tragedies from tip-overs.

More than 11,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2019 for injuries caused by furniture and TV tip-overs, according to a new study by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.


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