Many accidents happen inside the home, and quite a few of them involve furniture. Very often children are involved too. Most of these accidents are avoidable and here are some simple, easy steps to help you avoid them. Choose your furniture wisely, with quality and safety in mind, especially when you have small children or grandparents at home. So many accidents can be prevented in this way.
By far the greatest danger from furniture inside a home is from furniture tip-overs. Anywhere from 22,700 to 31,400 people are injured by falling furniture each year according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and most of them are children.
Familiarize yourself with tip-over standard for chests, armoires and TV stands. Look for products that meet the voluntary tip-over standards and anchor any existing unstable furniture to the wall. Follow manufacturers' guidelines for selecting TV furniture.
Bunk Bed Safety
As a rule, bunk beds should never be used for children under six years of age. Even when a child is older than six, make sure to follow these guidelines for greater safety:
- The top bunk should have guardrails on each side, with openings of no more than 15 inches at each end.
- The rails should extend at least 5 inches above the top surface of the mattress, and be sturdy.
- Use a proper size mattress, and a sturdy ladder to climb to the top bunk.
- Don't allow horseplay on bunk beds, and don't attach any items to any part of the bunk bed, including hooks, belts and jump ropes.
Dressers and Chests
Look for pieces that meet the voluntary ASTM tip-over standard. You should buy dressers and chests with automatic drawer stops, and drawers that open and close smoothly especially for homes with children. Tugging at drawers could cause tip-overs. Never open more than one drawer at a time, and children should be taught not to sit or stand in open drawers.
While today's voluntary industry guidelines have made recliners safe for adult use, children should never be allowed to play climb, or jump on them. Only one person should be allowed on a recliner at one time. It also helps to make sure from time to time that the mechanism is safe to operate and still works properly.
Entertainment Centers and TV Stands
Pay special attention to selecting the right size TV stand or entertainment center for your equipment. Look for the manufacturer's guidelines as even lighter weight, flat-screen televisions can cause instability if placed on furniture that is not intended for housing electronics.
The TV itself could topple over causing injuries if not placed or secured properly.
While entertainment center tip-overs are more common in younger children, falling bookcases have caused injuries in older children and teens. It helps to be careful to not overload bookcase shelves.
It also helps to secure the top portion of a bookcase to the wall to prevent it from tipping over. When shelving is attached to a desk or cabinet, pay attention to the manufacturer's guidelines for securing the two pieces together. Attach the top piece to the wall as an additional safety measure especially when there are children in the home.
Blanket Chests, Toy Chests, and Other Storage
Another potential injury hazard comes from lids on toy chests and blanket chests.
Make sure lids on storage pieces come with safety latches that prevent the top from falling freely or slamming shut. Lids should not be able to lock automatically. For older chests that do not have safety latches, either contact the manufacturer for a replacement latch or remove the lid altogether to avoid accidents.
A baby's crib should be a safe and secure place. To keep it that way make sure you have a newer crib, as most older ones were drop-side cribs that have been recalled. Avoid decorative scrolls, knobs, and finials, and check from time to time to make sure that all parts are functioning smoothly and nothing is coming apart.
Keep your upholstery safe by protecting it from cigarettes or candles. Placing a sofa or chair too close to a radiator or fireplace can also pose potential fire hazards. Upholstery fires are often the result of negligence, such as falling asleep while holding a cigarette in hand.
Product Instability or Tip-Over Injuries and Fatalities Associated with Televisions, Furniture, and Appliances: 2019 Report. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Bunk Bed Guardrail Requirements. New York State Department of Health.