Furniture Tip-Overs: Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe

When children are stuck inside, they may try to turn your house into a playground. As a mother of four-year-old triplets, I know how quickly a trinket on a high shelf suddenly becomes a quest as alluring as the summit of Everest to a seasoned climber.

Every year, almost 15,000 children visit the emergency department for injuries from furniture tip-overs. That’s one child every 36 minutes. When children climb on desks, cabinets, or bookshelves, the furniture can tip over and hurt them. Younger children pull themselves up on the shelf a TV is sitting on and cause it to fall on them. Children may pull out dresser drawers and climb inside drawers to hide or climb up the drawers to get something on top of the dresser.

Even though we try, it’s hard to pay attention to every child’s every move in my house. So my husband and I have taken the time to secure heavy furniture and other items like our TVs to the walls to make sure our kids are safe. We also anchored the bookshelf in the kid’s room to the wall and their dressers to the wall.

Follow the safety tips below to keep your children safe.

Secure furniture like shelves, desks, and drawers to a wall.

  • Purchase furniture with wide legs or solid bases.
  • Install drawer stops on chests and drawers.
  • Place heavy items close to the floor on shelves.
  • Strap furniture to the wall with safety straps or L-brackets.
  • Avoid putting attractive items, such as toys or the remote, on top of furniture. If your child can see it, she’ll try to get it.

Secure flat screen TVs and be careful using older TVs.

  • Wall mount flat screen TVs whenever possible.
  • If you’re using a TV stand, make sure to use a stand designed to be used as a TV stand. Pick one that is the right size to hold the size and type of TV you have. Secure the TV to the stand with safety straps and then secure the stand to the wall with safety straps or L-brackets.
  • Tuck cords away so they can’t be pulled on or become a tripping hazard.
  • If you have an older TV – one of those heavy, bulky ones without a flat back – consider recycling it. If you choose to keep using it, avoid placing the TV on top of the dresser as they are not designed to hold the weight of a TV. Instead, put it on a stand designed for this type of TV. Make sure to secure the TV to the stand and the stand to the wall.

You can find drawer stops, safety straps, and L-brackets at stores that sell baby and children’s furniture, and at hardware and home improvement stores. You can always ask a salesperson for help if you can’t find them or need help determining which product is right for you. For more tips on learning how to make your home safe, including tips on finding and purchasing the right stand or wall mount for your TV, download the Make Safe Happen app for iPhone or Android. Click here for more information.

Lara McKenzie, PhD, MA
Lara B. McKenzie, PhD, is a Principal Investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine and the Division of Epidemiology, College of Public Health at The Ohio State University. She is the mother of triplets (two girls, Parker and Harper, and one boy, Holden). She often jokes that when she leaves Children's, it’s to go to her second, less glamorous job where she doesn't get paid and no one listens to her!

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