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Many families are staying home more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But only about 80% of parents realize that furniture tip-overs can lead to injuries and death among children. Only about half have safety anchored a TV or furniture at home, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which created the Anchor It! safety campaign.
Parents who did not anchor said they didn’t think it was needed, as long as they were watching the kids.
“[The video] contains real-life footage that vividly demonstrates just how quickly a tip-over can happen, even when parents are in the same room watching their children,” according to the Anchor It! team. “In one incident, a mother is only a few feet from her toddlers.”
“We would like to note that, fortunately, all the children in the PSA survived. We are thankful for our collaborator network that helped us obtain this powerful footage of their own tip-over incidents.”
Why Do Tip-Over Incident Happen?
Unsecured TVs, furniture, and appliances lurk in every room.
The biggest problem is balance.
“When someone pulls a dresser drawer open … the furniture’s center of gravity shifts outward along with it,” according to a report by Popular Science. “A weight hung on an open drawer versus one hung on a closed drawer could have significantly different effects—the open drawers make it much more likely to tip.”
Tall furniture is required to come with brackets to anchor it to walls.
But for dressers 30 inches tall or shorter, safety standards are entirely voluntary.
Consumer Reports recently tested short dressers and found that half couldn’t support a 50-pound weight hanging off the front of an extended drawer.
“Companies decide whether or not to adhere to the guidelines, though even manufacturers that do adhere don’t have to test any dresser 30 inches or less in height. But that cutoff is fairly arbitrary,” Popular Science reported.
How Many Tip-Overs Occur?
The U.S. Consumer Product Commission recently released new data on tip-overs.
- Most tip-overs are TVs (72%), followed by furniture (24%) and appliances (4%).
- Tip-overs usually occur in the bedroom (51%) or living room (22%)
- 28,300 emergency-room trips resulted from tip-overs from 2015-2017.
- 542 deaths resulted from tip-overs since 2000. Most victims are younger than 5 years old (89%).
How Can I Prevent a Tip-Over?
To prevent a tip-over tragedy, the Anchor It! team suggests:
- Secure TVs. Televisions should only be placed on furniture designed to hold a TV, such as television stands or media centers. Televisions that are not wall mounted should still be anchored to the wall. Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall or to furniture to prevent them from toppling over. Recycle older CRT televisions.
- Follow instructions. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to secure TVs and furniture properly.
- Check and register your furniture. Check these listings to see if IKEA, Target, and other manufacturers have issued recalls in recent years due to their products tipping over during normal use. “This is, incidentally, why you should register your products—you’ll get an email if something gets recalled,” according to Popular Science.
- Secure top-heavy furniture. Anchor you existing furniture with inexpensive anti-tip brackets. New furniture, such as dressers, are sold with anti-tip devices. Install them right away.
- Remove tempting objects. Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and furniture.
What Else Can Help Prevent Tip-Overs?
Increased Furniture Standards. Consumer Reports is calling for increased standards.
That goes for shorter furniture, too.
“What we found over the course of many months is that manufacturers could make dressers stable enough to pass a more rigorous test,” James Dickerson of Consumer Reports told Popular Science, “and the current voluntary standard does not cover enough dressers, does not protect enough children, and is not mandatory.”
More Bilingual Educational Content. The Anchor It! campaign has free educational materials in English and Spanish. They also feature videos in English or Spanish to help parents overcome common barriers related to anchoring furniture.
The newest “Even When You’re Watching” bilingual videos urge parents to protect against tip-overs.
“Even when adults are in the same room with children, dangerous tip-overs can occur,” said Robert Adler, acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Many parents and caregivers do not know about this hidden hazard, or believe that they can prevent a tip-over by watching their children, but these incidents still happen. We urge adults to Anchor It! and to tell their friends and family to do so, too.”
“These tragic tip-overs can happen in the blink of an eye.”