Furniture Safety – Tethering Tips and Tricks

After I wrote about the danger of dressers falling on children, my friend Anne of Zephyr Hill Blog asked if I had any furniture safety tips or recommendations for tethering.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I can tell you how we’ve done it and what’s worked in our home.

Furniture Safety – The High Dresser

The high dresser is one of the more obvious pieces of furniture to fall.  Parents put things on top, kids can’t reach, so then they climb.  I did it and survived with no ill effects, but not every child is so lucky.  People will often try to buy devices to help with furniture safety, but when we were tethering Norton’s dresser, there wasn’t one anywhere to be found in our city.  That guy I married is a thinker who likes to find simple solutions.  He pulled the drawers out of the high dresser and found that there was essentially a “stud” running up the back of the dresser on the inside.  He found a stud in the wall, bought a few three inch long screws, and actually screwed the dresser itself into the wall.  It does not move.  Not at all.  We tested with just one screw by trying our best to pull it over.

It didn’t move.  But then, because I’m a believer in furniture safety overkill, he screwed three more of those long screws through the dresser and the dry wall into the stud.

The Hutch

I love the changing table in Eudora’s room.  I love the hutch and how well it holds diapers.  When it was still Norton’s room, though, we had a scare.  I was trying to get something off the top of the hutch (which I’m too short to reach without a whole lot of effort… and my husband forgets about my height disadvantage because he is an inconsiderate tall person).  Somehow I managed to upset the top of the hutch, making it too top heavy for it to balance.  The hutch fell on me.

I caught it.  I was also not holding Norton (he was contained in his crib at the time).  Even though I caught it and managed to put it upright, I can tell you that freaking thing weighs a ton.  It hurt.  The shelf that we weren’t using on the hutch was on top; it fell off and bounced off my other shoulder.  When I get hurt, I get mad, so I had that rush of adrenaline that helped me put the hutch back into place.

Furniture Safety - Tethering

A few brackets like these have kept the hutch attached to the dresser.

After I put the hutch back in place, I called my husband and let him know exactly how angry I was over the situation and how it would have been very, very different results if it had hit our son.  The furniture safety fix for the hutch was to use a flat metal bracket to screw the dresser base and the hutch together.

In the last few months, Norton has taken to climbing Eudora’s changing table to get into things that we try to keep out of his reach.  Those brackets have kept the hutch in place.

We’ve also attached some tethers to keep the entire dresser/hutch combo from coming down.  However, since it takes about five people to move the combined weight, I suspect it’s overkill.

I’m okay with that.

Furniture Safety and a Flat Screen

Flat screen TVs are awesome.  They’ve got that wonderful slim profile and provide such a better picture than the old tube televisions.  They’re also deceptively heavy.  The base and the weight distribution make them easy to tip.  And when you consider that children have a special gift for tipping things over, that makes them pretty darned dangerous.  Ours are all wall mounted so that the risk of my little climbers pulling the television over on themselves is eliminated.  For our 40″, we like something that will swivel like this wall mount.  For the 52″ in our basement, we use something pretty heavy duty: a fixed wall mount that can hold up to 250 pounds.  That’s enough to allow for the weight of the TV and any chance a curious child gets into it.

If you’re not willing to mount your TV for whatever reason, there are also furniture tethers specifically for your television.

What Should You Mount?

Generally, if it’s tall and heavy, it should be mounted… but even shorter dressers have been known to fall over with deadly results.  Your dressers.  The refrigerator and stove.  Your China cabinet and hutch.  Book cases.  Toy racks.  They don’t always seem like things that should be tethered in the name of furniture safety, but you’d be amazed at what children will climb.

Have you mounted furniture for safety?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

Comments

  1. I’m definitely doing the tall bookcase in our living room. The children love to read….and the toddler wants to be like everyone so he grabs books from the shelves. Just the other day I saw him grasp a shelf and start to climb……….(insert heart failure here). It’s a wicker shelf so I’ll have to use my imagination (or maybe I’ll pick my better half’s brains as you did) to figure out how to anchor. Thanks for the tips on securing a dresser, BTW.

    • If it’s wicker, it’s got those supporting poles, right? I’d run something around those poles by the back. Maybe zap straps to tie those to one of those padlock loop things that you put locks through?

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