Children four and under are at great risk for serious injury or death from a toppled piece of heavy furniture. Here are several things to consider to minimize the risk of furniture-related accidents when you have a curious climber in your household.
What types of items pose the highest risk?
Tall pieces of furniture, including bookcases, dressers, entertainment centers, armoires and china hutches, pose a toppling risk. Even wardrobes, oversized mirrors, and appliances can pose a danger. Furniture with shelving or drawers that can be used as steps is particularly dangerous.
Why do tall furniture pieces tip over?
Weight distribution is a primary reason. For example, storing the heaviest books on the upper shelves of a bookcase or propping a mirror on top of a dresser may cause a piece to topple. Second, children often use shelves or drawers to climb, shifting the weight of a furniture piece forward even more. Third, over time, houses may settle, leading to unlevel floor surfaces that can cause a piece of furniture to become unsteady.
What can I do?
- Mount flat-screen televisions to the wall rather than placing them on TV stands or entertainment centers. When using a stand, use furniture straps to attach the TV to the wall behind it or secure it to the back of the stand.
- Secure brackets and straps from the back of your mirror, wardrobe, or china hutch to the floor and the wall behind them.
- Store heavier things in the bottom drawers or on lower shelves to keep the weight near the floor.
- Install child locks on drawers to prevent them from being pulled out for use as makeshift stairs.
- When purchasing new furniture, ask about child-safety options and select sturdy items that sit close to the floor.
How do I choose the right anchors or brackets?
- Flat screen television brackets likely came with bolts, making this simple. For dressers, remove the top drawer and drive a long screw through the back and into the wall. Bookcases that have solid wood for the back can also be screwed to the wall through the back of the unit. Warning: This technique will not work if the back piece is particle board.
- Another popular option is to use furniture straps screwed to the outside back of the furniture piece and then into the wall immediately behind it.
- One last option is a simple L bracket that can be driven into the wall and the top or side of the piece. Ensure all brackets are mounted into wall studs for security.
Related – Child Proofing Your Home