The dangers posed by tipping furniture, appliances at home

It was a chilling sight: Twin toddlers in a Utah home, caught on video in January trying to climb a dresser that topples over, pinning one underneath.

One brother managed to free the other, avoiding a tragedy that has happened all too often with young children and heavy pieces of furniture, appliances or televisions.

Super Bowl Sunday might seem like an odd occasion to highlight such accidents, yet it offers a high-profile platform for letting people know about the dangers that large household items can pose to small children.

The Injury and Violence Prevention Unit of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has designated Super Bowl Sunday — when so many of us focus on our big-screen televisions — as TV, Furniture and Appliance Tip-Over Prevention Awareness Day.

The incidents of tip-over injuries and related deaths have increased over the past 10 years by 31 percent, according to the MDHHS. From 2008 to 2010, an estimated 25,300 injuries happened annually in the United States in children age 17 and younger due to TV, furniture and appliance tip-overs.

Preparation for Super Bowl Sunday offers a good time to make sure furniture and TVs are properly secured and do not pose a tipping risk, the MDHHS advises.

“Before friends and families gather to enjoy each other’s company, there are simple, preventive steps everyone can take to ensure their homes are safe for people of all ages,” said Nick Lyon, director of the MDHHS.

It is estimated only 1 in 4 adults anchor their TV to a wall. Using furniture straps or a bracket to mount flat-screen TVs to the wall is an easy way to protect everyone, the MDHHS advised.

Heavy, old-style tube TVs should only be placed on a low — below knee-level — and stable piece of furniture. Even lower pieces of furniture can destabilize if they have drawers that can pull out, or if a child tries to climb it. Book shelves and any cabinets or dressers with drawers should also be secured to a wall with a brace or strap.

The Safe Kids Michigan Coalition has more information available on its website at www.michigan.gov/injuryprevention, along with such resources as instruction videos, tip sheets, and even directions on how to recycle old TVs.

Additional information and tips for making homes safer also is at websites for the Consumer Production Safety Commission, www.cpsc.gov, and Safe Kids Worldwide, www.safekids.org.

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