It can happen in an instant: A small child pulls up on a television, dresser or computer monitor and gets critically injured when the furniture tips over.
"Every parent or guardian of a young child should look around their homes and imagine what could tip over, fall off walls and injure a child. Imagining it is better than it becoming a reality," Dr. Alex Rosenau, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in a college news release.
Between 2009 and 2011, roughly 43,000 people ended up in a U.S. emergency room after an object or piece of furniture fell over on them. Young people were involved in 60 percent of these accidents. And nearly 300 kids ranging from 1 month to 8 years old died of their injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
There are steps parents and guardians can take to prevent serious and fatal "tip over" injuries. The emergency physicians recommend the following precautions:
- Secure furniture to the wall. If you aren't sure how to do this, home improvement stores and child retail stores should be able to offer advice. It's also a good idea to replace any top-heavy furniture that can't be secured. This is particularly important for furniture with shelves, drawers and doors.
- Make sure that all computer monitors are also safely secured so they can't tip over.
- Store television and computer equipment close to the ground. Other heavy and commonly used objects should also be stored low to the ground.
- Don't put objects on top of TVs.
- Large wall art or sculptures that could fall and hurt a child should be secured or removed.
- Appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens and microwaves, should also be firmly in place.
- Mounted TVs should be well out of reach of young children.
Use safety gates to keep children out of rooms that aren't childproof, the emergency physicians advised. "Telling a child not to touch or climb on something is not enough," said Rosenau. "You must take the first steps to prevent tragedy from happening in your home by childproofing each room they are in."
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides more tips to prevent furniture "tip-over" injuries.
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