Children reaching for toys and other items are at risk for severe injuries or even death if furniture isn’t properly stabilized to avoid tipping over, personal injury and product liability attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell say. The year 2011 saw the highest 1-year number of fatalities caused by television sets, furniture or large appliances tipping over and toppling onto victims, personal injury and product liability attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell say. According to a recently released report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 349 consumers were killed between 2000 and 2011. Of them, 84 percent were children age eight and younger. The year 2011 had the highest number of deaths at 41, up from 31 in 2010 and 27 in 2009. Injury numbers are much higher. The CPSC estimates that more than 43,000 consumers are injured each year in tip-over accidents involving dressers, entertainment centers, wall shelving units, large screen TV sets and the like. More than 59 percent (25,000) of victims are children and teens under age 18. These accidents often happen when young children climb furniture or appliances in an attempt to reach items like toys, TV remotes or video game handsets. They can cause life-altering injuries including severe head and neck trauma or even paralysis. Young children are at particular risk of being trapped or crushed beneath heavy furniture or appliances. Such accidents increasingly are happening in bedrooms, as families purchase new, lighter weight flat-screen TV sets and move their older, bulkier and heavier sets into bedrooms without the proper stand or anchoring device that originally accompanied the pieces. In fact, of the fatalities reported during the time period studied, 40 percent occurred in bedrooms, compared to just 19 percent in living rooms or family rooms. To help protect yourself and your family from injuries caused by tip-over accidents, Harrell and Harrell and the CPSC recommend these safety measures:
- Anchor furniture to the wall or the floor using anchoring devices typically included in product packaging;
- Place television sets on sturdy, low bases;
- If placing TV sets atop furniture, anchor the furniture to the floor or wall and set the TV as far back as possible;
- Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children away from TV stands or heavy furniture;
- Keep electrical and connection cords for TVs, DVD players, game consoles, etc. out of reach of children and out of walkways where they pose trip hazards;
- Make sure freestanding kitchen ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets;
- Teach children to ask for items they cannot reach and to never climb furniture or appliances.
If you or your dependents have been injured by an appliance or furniture item, particularly one that lacked proper anchoring devices, seek medical attention immediately. Then, contact an experienced personal injury or product liability attorney. Reach Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.