The Tipping Point: CPSC Urges Parents to Inspect and Secure TVs, Furniture, and Appliances to Prevent Tip-Over Deaths and Injuries

September 22, 2009
Release Number: 09-345

For young children, the home is a playground, and while many parents childproof to ensure that their home is a safe place, some may not be aware that unsecured TVs, furniture and appliances are hidden hazards lurking in every room. Today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents once again to take simple, low-cost steps to prevent deaths and injuries associated with furniture, TV, and appliance tip-overs.

CPSC staff estimates that in 2006, 16,300 children 5 years old and younger were treated in emergency rooms because of injuries associated with TV, furniture, and appliance tip-overs, and between 2000 and 2006, CPSC staff received reports (pdf) of 134 tip-over related deaths. Additionally, CPSC staff is aware of at least 30 media reports of tip-over deaths since January 2007 involving this same age group.

“Many parents are unaware of the deadly danger of this hidden hazard. I urge parents to include securing TVs, furniture, and appliances in their childproofing efforts,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Taking a few moments now can prevent a tip-over tragedy later.”

“You may think your home is safe, but everyday things like a television can hurt your child. I was right there and it happened,” said Sylvia Santiago, of West Haven, Connecticut who lost her two-year old daughter in 2008.

Typically, injuries and deaths occur when children climb onto, fall against, or pull themselves up on television stands, shelves, bookcases, dressers, desks, chests, and appliances. In some cases, televisions placed on top of furniture tip over and cause a child to suffer traumatic and sometimes fatal injuries. “The most devastating injuries that we see resulting from furniture tipping on children are injuries to the brain and when a child is trapped under a heavy piece of furniture and suffocates,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Recent revisions to the voluntary safety standards for clothes storage units provide for the inclusion of warning labels and additional hardware to secure the furniture to the floor or wall. To help prevent tip-over hazards, CPSC offers the following safety tips:

-Furniture should be stable on its own. For added security, anchor chests or dressers, TV stands, bookcases and entertainment units to the floor or attach them to a wall.

-Place TVs on a sturdy, low-rise base. Avoid flimsy shelves.

-Push the TV as far back as possible.

-Place electrical cords out of a child’s reach, and teach kids not to play with them.

-Keep remote controls and other attractive items off the TV stand so kids won’t be tempted to grab for them and risk knocking the TV over.

-Make sure free-standing ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.

Watch the video on CPSC’s Blog site and on YouTube.

Download CPSC's new safety alert (pdf) and the Neighborhood Safety Network Tip Over Dangers Poster (pdf).