- April 11
- Child Injury
Something many parents do not consider once their children start crawling, walking and climbing is that the children could suffer injuries when furniture falls on top of them. It often does not cross a parent’s mind because they assume that since the furniture is heavier than the child, this means the child can’t move it. Sadly, though, injuries caused by overturned furniture are not terribly uncommon.
Just how many children are injured from toppling furniture? According to studies, quite a few, especially children under six years of age.
How Many Children Are Injured by Falling Furniture?
According to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as cited by The Washington Post, a child receives emergency treatment for falling furniture and televisions once every 46 minutes. The study encompassed 30 years and found that 560,203 children aged 18 and under received emergency treatment for tip-over injuries. Of those, 11,521 incidents happened in 2019. Also, according to the study, 70 percent of the injuries happened to children under six years of age.
The study found that the rate of injuries from television tip-overs declined as flatscreen TVs became more common in homes. The study found that tip-over injuries increased from 1990 through 2010 and decreased by 56.8 percent from 2010 through 2019.
Accidents also decline as more parents install anchoring hardware to heavy furniture that has a high risk of tipping. However, there are still manufacturers who do not provide anchor equipment and parents who do not realize that a small child could tip over a heavy piece of furniture.
How Many Children Are Killed by Falling Furniture?
Tip-over injuries not only cause injuries, but they can also cause deaths. Ninety-one percent of tip-over fatalities happen at home, and of those, over 75 percent of the fatalities are children under six years of age. Of the 91 percent of tip-over fatalities that happen at home, half of them happen in a bedroom. Tip-over accidents often cause head injuries, and head injuries was the cause death in most of the fatalities.
IKEA recalled certain furniture after a fourth child died in 2016 because a MALM dresser tipped over on the child. If not properly anchored, certain furniture could tip over, according to the recall. Customers had a choice of a refund on the furniture or a free anchoring kit.
Two children lost their lives before IKEA announced a repair program. IKEA knew of these deaths but did not implement the repair program until the second boy died. The first was a two-year-old boy, and the second was a 23-month-old boy.
Even after IKEA announced that the repair kit was available, the company learned that two more children died. One two-year-old boy died because a MALM three-drawer chest was not anchored, and one 22-month-old died after a six-drawer chest fell on him.
Because almost half of the tip-over injuries are in the head and neck area, the injuries are often significant or fatal. In the study referred to above, 575 incidents were fatal, according to The Washington Post.
How Do You Keep Furniture from Tipping?
Dressers, chests of drawers, bookcases, and even TV stands are often narrow. They are usually top-heavy, which makes them easy to tip over when a child climbs on the bottom shelves or a bottom drawer.
Once a heavy piece of furniture, especially a taller piece, starts to tip, it goes fast. You won’t have time to reach it and prevent it from crushing whatever is under it, including your child.
Parents can prevent injuries and death by installing tip-over hardware. Most large appliances come with the hardware, but if an appliance or piece of furniture does not, you can order hardware kits. Or, you could move the furniture to a room that your child does not have access to. Although tip-over injuries and deaths are declining, furniture manufacturers need to do more to prevent injuries and deaths.
Furniture Tip-Over Accidents
All large and heavy furniture has a higher risk of tipping, especially bookshelves and tall dressers. When you place a television on top of it, the risk of tipping when a child climbs on it is even higher. Even if you are in the same room and keeping a close eye on your child, you cannot get to the child fast enough once the furniture starts to fall.
The only safe way to prevent injuries and deaths is to anchor the furniture or appliance to the wall. Furniture and appliance manufacturers can provide anchors for heavy furniture, appliances and televisions that are likely to tip when a child climbs on the furniture or appliance.
Always anchor a television to a wall or the base of the television cart or entertainment center to keep the television from falling off the furniture and onto the child. Any appliance or piece of furniture that invites climbing should be anchored to the wall. Statistics show that 75 percent of child fatalities involved a television, whether it was a combination of a TV and furniture or the television alone.
As this video shows, it takes only five minutes to install anchors for furniture or a television. Anchors feature two U-shaped brackets. Screw one into the wall and the other onto the piece of furniture or appliance. Attach the anchor wire to both pieces, then push the furniture or appliance against the wall.
If restrictions from a landlord prevent you from installing anchors into walls, remove the piece of furniture. You can put it in a room that your child does not have access to, but it is safer to remove it from the home. If you cannot anchor a television to the wall, anchor it to the base of the entertainment center as long as the furniture is deep enough so that it will not tip.
Contact an Injury Attorney
Tip-over accidents are devastating, especially when they cause catastrophic head injuries that might affect a child for the rest of their life. It is easy enough to prevent these accidents by installing anchoring hardware or removing heavy furniture that invites climbing. However, accidents can still happen if the anchor works loose from a television or a heavy piece of furniture.
If your child suffered an injury or lost his or her life because of a tip-over accident, contact Evans/Reilley at (512) 732-2727 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.