A new study reports that about 264,200 U.S. kids went to hospital emergency departments between 1990 and 2007 for injuries caused by furniture tip-overs, and that 300 of the children died.
Studying data collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the researchers report a 41% increase since the early '90s in the number of kids injured by falling TVs, shelves, and dressers. Most injuries (about 75%) are in kids younger than 6, who most often are hurt by a falling TV.
Almost 15,000 kids end up in ERs each year due to such accidents; the study's authors speculate that the rise might be due to changes in furniture or TV design, more furniture in homes, or parents taking kids to a hospital more readily than in years past.
To reduce risks, the researchers recommend:
- putting TVs on stands that are low to the ground
- attaching TVs and furniture to the wall with safety straps, L-brackets, or even Velcro
- not putting tempting items (like toys and remote controls) on top of furniture or TVs, as kids might try to climb up to retrieve them
They also suggest buying furniture with wide legs or solid bases, installing drawer stops to keep drawers in chests from pulling all the way out, and placing heavy items on shelves close to the floor to help prevent tipping.
What This Means to You
Parents know that childproofing in a house with an adventurous toddler is important, but might not realize that kids need to still be protected long after they've mastered walking. Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening in the home.
So be sure to thoroughly childproof all areas of your home and be watchful, especially of babies and toddlers, at all times. It only takes an instant for a youngster to fall, run over to a hot stove, or ingest a hazardous material.
If your child is injured — by falling furniture or any other mishap — be sure to seek medical attention right away if he or she:
- is an infant
- has lost consciousness, even momentarily
- has any of these symptoms:
- won't stop crying
- complains of head and neck pain
- becomes difficult to console
- isn't walking normally
If your child is not an infant, has not lost consciousness, and is alert and behaving normally after a fall:
- Apply an ice pack or instant cold pack to the injured area for 20 minutes. If you use ice, always wrap it in a washcloth or sock; ice applied directly to bare skin can cause frostbite.
- Observe your child carefully for the next 24 hours. If you notice any signs of an injury, call your doctor immediately.
- If the incident has occurred close to bedtime or naptime and your child falls asleep soon afterward, check in every few hours to look for twitching limbs or disturbances in color or breathing.
If your child sustains a head injury, watch for signs of a possible concussion, including:
- "seeing stars" and feeling dazed, dizzy, or lightheaded
- memory loss, such as trouble remembering what happened right before and after the injury
- nausea or vomiting
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2009
Source: "Injuries From Furniture Tip-overs Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 1990-2007." Clinical Pediatrics, May 2009.