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Is your furniture kid-friendly?

The recent video of a dresser falling on a young boy and his twin brother helping to push it away has turned a very dangerous situation into a heartwarming moment.  However, most of these cases don’t end so well. 

Over the past 10 years, a child visited the emergency room every 45 minutes because of a TV or large piece of furniture tipping over on top of them.  And that number is growing, especially in kids 5 years old and younger.

Safe Kids Worldwide has named Saturday, February 4, as National TV Safety Day.  It’s all to raise awareness about TV and large furniture tip-overs and to educate parents and caregivers on the simple things they can do to make their homes safer.

The damage caused when a TV or piece of furniture falls on a child can be devastating.  “The weight can crush a child’s skull and do severe internal damage to the body, as well,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager.  “Even if the impact is not fatal, often the child cannot get out from under the item.  If mom or dad isn’t right there, the child can suffocate under the pressure.”

Even the lightest piece of furniture, such as a small bookcase, weighs 25 pounds.  Most pieces, such as dressers and TVs, weight much more – 50, 100 pounds or more.  Adding clothing or heavy items only adds to the weight that can come crashing down on a child if the furniture is not secured.

A curious, determined child can easily topple a TV or piece of furniture.  “Children are natural explorers,” says Jessica Saunders, director of Dayton Children’s Center for Child Health and Wellness.  “While we as parents may tell them it’s off limits, their curiosity and ingenuity drives them to see dressers as mountains to be climbed and bookcases as cliffs to scale, especially if there is a toy or other item of interest on top.”  For televisions, the most common problem is being bumped off a table or stand, normally by a child simply trying to turn it on.

Thankfully, there are easy ways to make sure your TVs and furniture are secure.  “The best way to prevent tragedy from falling furniture is to anchor it to the wall,” says Schwing.  “Some televisions and furniture come with the kits or you can buy a wall-mounting kit.  There are also kits available at any hardware or baby store to tether a table-top television and furniture to the wall for security.”

After every television is securely fastened to the wall, you can also make sure cables and cords are tucked away and out of reach of children.  Be sure to anchor every large piece of furniture to the wall, too, including dressers, bookcases, grandfather clocks and stoves, to name a few.

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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