Health Matters by Dr.Paul: Home Furniture Safety
In response to several online videos that showed young children pull a dresser onto themselves, and that furniture injuries do occur, I put together this article as a reminder about furniture safety in a child’s bedroom and of course throughout the home.
As a general rule, all furniture including cribs, changing tables, playpens, dressers and similar items should meet the most current government standards. Items that do not meet current safety standards can be dangerous. So look for furniture that meets current standards to minimize a child’s chances of injury.
As we saw in the recent video that has gone viral, children can and indeed, have been injured trying to climb free-standing furniture like wall unit shelves and dressers. So it is important to take the necessary preventative precautions. We also need to be careful with furniture in other parts of the home that a child frequents. Of course, an important general injury prevention strategy is to always supervise children in the home and teach them not to climb on or hang from furniture. Here are some other general tips adapted from Health Canada:
- Furniture, such as bookcases, cabinets, television stands, and dressers, should have a wide and stable base that sits directly on the floor. Models with legs or wheels are more likely to tip-over.
- Attach furniture to the wall if possible, using the appropriate angle braces, anchors or safety straps. If these items come with the product, follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation.
- When buying a dresser, look for one that meets the requirements of the current ASTM International Standard (F2057). Know before you buy: check the label, visit the manufacturer's Web site, or ask the retailer to find out if the dresser you have selected meets this standard.
- Place televisions far back on low stable furniture that is designed to hold the weight and size of the television. Attach the television to the stand, if possible; I have seen children who have actually pulled the TV off the shelves onto themselves.
- Do not place items that may appeal to a child, such as toys, plants and remote controls, on top of a television or tall furniture.
- Do not place heavy items on top of elevated surfaces.
- Regularly check that furniture, televisions and appliances are stable and secure and that electrical cords are out of children's reach.
- For furniture with drawers, only open one drawer at a time to reduce the chance that it will tip over; completely close all drawers when not in use so they cannot be used as steps by a child; place heavier items in lower drawers; and install locking devices on each drawer if you have young children.
- Do not assemble and use the furniture if instructions are not provided or if you cannot follow the instructions.
- Verify a product's label, visit the manufacturer's website or ask the retailer to find out what safety features are available for the furniture you are considering.