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The Tipping Point: Protecting Children From Tip-Over Deaths

By Senator Patty Ritchie
As a mother and grandmother, I know there’s nothing more important that making sure one’s children are safe and out of harm’s way.

That’s why I was surprised to learn that every two weeks, a child in the United States dies as a result of a tip-over incident involving a television or piece of furniture.

In addition, every 24 minutes a child is admitted to the emergency room due to falling furniture or televisions.

If there’s any place where children should be safe, it’s in our homes.

That’s why I sponsored legislation that will help safeguard little ones from tip-over hazards by directing the state’s Consumer Protection Division to develop a public awareness campaign about the danger, and the need to anchor to floors or walls heavy furniture that could fall or be pulled down by a child.

This measure has passed both the Senate and Assembly and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 430 deaths were attributed to tip-over incidents from 2000 to 2013, with 84 percent involving children under the age of nine.

In addition, according to a new report in the Journal of Neurosurgery Pediatrics, an increase in television sales has resulted in an uptick in head injuries due to their tipping over.

Between 2006 and 2008 there were 16,500 injuries and between 2008 and 2010 there were 19,200.

Here in our own region, at least two deaths have been caused by a falling piece of furniture or television.

My legislation is just one way that we’re making homes safer for our children.

Here are some additional steps you can take to reduce the risk of tip-over hazards:

Make sure your furniture is sturdy: Don’t place televisions or other large items on furniture that can’t handle the weight or topple easily.

Utilize mounts for flat screen televisions: If you have a flat screen TV, mount it the wall to eliminate the risk of it tipping over.

Anchor top-heavy items: These days, most new furniture comes with anti-tip devices.  Don’t forget to install them, and to add anti-tip equipment to older pieces of furniture or televisions that aren’t equipped.

Avoid the temptation: Toys and other items placed atop heavy furniture tempt children to reach for them. Eliminate the risk by not placing things they might want to touch on top of furniture.

Restrict play areas: According to the aforementioned Journal of Neurosurgery Pediatrics report, three-fourths of tip over accidents aren’t witness by adult caregivers. It’s a good idea to set up restricted play areas, that don’t have any potential tip-over hazards, to better protect your children.

We’ve all seen children climbing on tables and furniture, and many of us are unaware that what looks like playing is actually a very dangerous situation.

For more information on how to protect your children and prevent tip-over injuries or deaths, I encourage you to visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Tip-Over Information Center, found at www.cspc.gov.