Preventing Tip-Over Accidents

A child is killed every two weeks in the U.S. after being crushed by an appliance or piece of furniture. Luckily, there are low-cost ways to secure your heavy objects and protect your children.

What objects are most likely to cause injury?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 70 percent of tip-over injuries are caused by televisions and TV stands. More than one-quarter of tip-over accidents are caused by dressers, tables, and other pieces of furniture. The remaining tip-over injuries are caused by kitchen appliances and other heavy household objects.

Children between the ages of 3 and 5 are most susceptible to tip-over accidents because of their natural curiosity and ability to move around quickly. However, children of all ages are vulnerable to tip-over injuries; 27 percent of victims are between 1 and 2 years old, and another 24 percent are between 2 and 3 years old. This adds up to about 3 injuries per hour, 71 per day, 2,117 injuries per month, and a grand total of 25,400 tip-over injuries annually.

How do these accidents happen?

Children are naturally curious and rambunctious, and most children will climb on anything to reach something they want. By climbing on an unsecured dresser, TV stand, or other piece of furniture, the child changes the weight distribution and can cause the item to fall. When a dresser or other piece of heavy furniture falls, the gravity and energy involved can amount to thousands of pounds of weight.

Nearly half (45 percent) of these accidents occur in the bedroom, with the second-most common location being the living room. In more than half of tip-over accidents, the victim is crushed beneath the weight of the object; in 18 percent of accidents, the victim is trapped and unable to breath; and in 10 percent of accidents, the victim is hit or struck by the heavy object.

How should I protect my child?

The key to childproofing heavy objects, such as television sets and furniture, is to anchor and protect. You can find low-cost anchoring devices at local stores that prevent TVs, dressers, bookcases, and other pieces of furniture from tipping over. When it comes to your TV, make sure it is placed on a sturdy, low base and is pushed back as far as possible (especially when anchoring it is not an option).

The Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a test on TV tip-overs and developed the following recommendations:

  • Place the TV on sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV or place it on a low-rise base
  • Secure the TV to the furniture with straps, brackets, or braces to prevent it from sliding
  • Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall or to furniture to prevent them from toppling over
  • If you have a large, heavy CRT TV, place it on a low, stable piece of furniture
  • Secure top-heavy furniture to the wall with brackets, braces, or wall straps
  • Place electrical cords out of a child’s reach and teach them not to play with cords
  • Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and other furniture

Most importantly, talk to your children about the dangers of climbing on TV’s, furniture, or other heavy objects. If children are inclined to climb on unsafe furniture, either install an anchoring system or put the furniture out of reach of children (i.e. in a locked room).