5 Essential Tips for Preventing Tip-Over Accidents
Furniture tip-over accidents are a little talked about household hazard that, according to the Consumer Safety Product Commission, accounted for at least 430 deaths between 2010 and 2013. After reading a heartbreaking Philly.com article about families who lost their young children to tragic and entirely preventable tip-over incidents, I decided to do whatever I could do to make our home safer for our increasingly mobile and curious baby.
Here are some tips for keeping your little one safe from tipping furniture:
1. Install anchoring devices to bookshelves, wardrobes, media centers, appliances, dressers, and any other furniture that could topple onto a child. Most new furniture items are packaged with wall anchors, and appliances usually come with floor bracket kits, but for your existing furniture, straps and anchors are easy to buy online or at your local hardware or retail chain store. For maximum safety, be sure to drill into wall studs rather than screwing into plaster or drywall, which may not properly bear weight. Oven ranges can easily tip if a toddler attempts to use an open door as a step, so make sure your range is secured with an anti-tip bracket.
2. Place furniture on a level surface. This sounds obvious enough, but perfectly level floors are actually hard to come by, at least in New York’s charmingly imperfect prewar apartments. Likewise, any unevenness in wall-to-wall carpeting can affect your furniture’s center of gravity. Use a level ruler to make sure your furniture isn’t tilting ever so slightly forward. If it is, use furniture levelers to give your bookcases and dressers a standing chance.
3. Mount flat-screen TVs on the wall, out of your child’s reach. Two thirds of tip-over accidents involve TVs. Flat-screen televisions are fairly light these days and are generally pretty simple to mount to the wall. Make sure you secure your TV well out of your child’s reach and, again, drill into studs for a sturdy hold. If you don’t feel up to the task, hire a trusted handyman to get the job done right.
4. Recycle your old cathode ray tube (CRT) television. These old TVs are heavy beasts that can strike with a force six times greater than comparably sized flat-screens. So, if you can afford to upgrade to a lightweight flat-screen TV that can be easily mounted to the wall, do it. If you’re unwilling to part with your monolithic boob tube, put that sucker on the floor, where it’s less likely to tip over. If you must put it on furniture, then make sure the console you use is low, sturdy, and made to hold your TV’s weight. Be sure to secure your television to its stable stand with anti-tip TV straps, and carefully anchor your chosen media console to your wall.
5. Talk to your child about the dangers of scaling furniture and appliances. Now that every piece of topple-prone furniture in your home is securely anchored to a wall, talk to your toddler about not climbing the bookcases or using drawers as steps. I know, I know, it’s probably an exercise in futility, but it doesn’t hurt to have a conversation or three about safety, especially if you catch your toddler in the act. You can add some levity to your chat with your best rendition of the cautionary counting song, “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” and segue right into fall hazards.