Keeping Curious Toddlers Safe

Tips for preventing furniture tip-over accidents from Baby Safety Month partner, the American Home Furnishings Alliance

Choosing the right furnishings for your baby’s nursery requires you to stretch your imagination beyond that sweetly swaddled infant to the curious toddler he or she will soon become. Crawling, pulling up and climbing are all advances parents celebrate, but they also signal the need for carefully selected furnishings and child-proofing throughout the entire home.

An average of 68 children age five and under head to the emergency room every week with an injury caused by a chest or dresser that tipped over on them – usually when the child was attempting to climb it. Tragically, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that from 2000 to 2016, nine children under age five died each year from this type of accident. In about 30 percent of the estimated injuries and more than half the fatalities, a television on top of the chest or dresser also fell.

Choosing the right furniture and using furniture tip restraints are key steps to preventing these furniture tip-over incidents.

In households with small children, parents and caregivers should always choose clothing storage furniture that meets the home furnishings industry’s voluntary stability standard. This standard requires manufacturers to engineer chests and dressers so that they remain stable when a drawer is opened and a 50-pound weight is applied to the front edge of that drawer. This test is meant to simulate the “pull” of an average 5-year-old child.

This year the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) partnered with UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) to introduce a “Stability Verified” program designed to help consumers easily identify furniture that complies with this stability standard. Beginning in October, parents shopping online and in retail stores should look for the UL “Stability Verified” mark. 

UL is a global safety science company that helps manufacturers deliver products that are safer, socially responsible and compliant with industry standards. UL’s laboratories conduct an estimated 96,000 product evaluations each year.

For the AHFA program, UL will visit the manufacturer and confirm annually that the equipment and personnel are in place to accurately conduct the product testing required by the industry’s stability standard. UL also will conduct an annual review of the company’s test data and repeat the stability testing on sample units to confirm the company’s clothing storage furniture qualifies to carry the “Stability Verified” mark. Data from participating companies, including a list of products eligible to carry the “Stability Verified” mark, will be available at https://verify.ul.com.   
 

Choosing a “Stability Verified” chest or dresser for a child’s room is one step, but most homes contain furniture of various ages and quality levels. AHFA recommends using furniture tip restraints – which are easily found in stores that carry other childproofing products – to anchor all clothing storage furniture, as well as any other pieces that might tip if pulled on or climbed on by a curious toddler.  

What Else Can You Do?

Follow these additional measures to help prevent tip-over accidents in your home:

  • Always place the heaviest items in the lowest drawers of dressers and chests.
  • Do not place TVs on furniture that is not specifically designed to hold electronics. Chests and bookcases pose significant hazards when misused in this way.
  • Never allow children to climb or hang on drawers, doors or shelves of furniture.
  • Never open more than one drawer at a time. Install stops on drawers (if the furniture doesn’t already have them) to prevent them from being pulled out all the way.
  • Don’t create a temptation to climb! Keep remote controls, toys and other enticing items off the tops of furniture and TVs where children can see but not reach them.
  • Always place TVs on sturdy, low bases. Always anchor furniture and TVs.