When we have kids, we think of household safety as “baby proofing.” You know, make sure your kid won’t hang himself on the cord from your blinds. Use outlet covers to prevent your child from sticking a whisk in an outlet. Keep the kid out of the dog food, make sure you use cabinet locks. All of that is fairly effective stuff in the beginning, but as they grow, household safety concerns change.
Norton, at four years old, can now work the baby gate, open the latches on the cabinets, pop off child proof knobs, and can get past pretty much any other household safety thing that you can buy. We ended up having to take the outlet covers off because both of my kids had no problems pulling them out of the wall. It became a choice between protecting them from an electrocution hazard or a choking hazard. (Since my kids are more likely to put something in their mouth and choke on it than to stick something in the outlet, we chose to eliminate the choking hazard.)
Since three and four year olds are so very, very adept at getting past any form of child proofing, it’s pretty easy to skip the “tie stuff down to keep them safe” aspect of household safety. Most of the stuff you can find in Wal-Mart or Target is fairly useless at that point.
Still, no matter the age of the child, as soon as that child is able to pull up, there’s something else to be done. It can save lives. Tether your furniture to the wall.
Twenty-seven years ago, I had a tall five drawer dresser in my bedroom. My television was on top of it. I was trying to reach something, so I did the same thing that I always did: found something to stand on to give me a boost. In that case, the “something” was the bottom drawer of my dresser. It started to go over. I remember being terrified and screaming “Eeeeeeeeeee!”
I was lucky. I fell to the side. My parents heard a great crash and found the television and the dresser leaning forward on the pile of rubble that was my bedroom floor.
My dad freaked out. He switched my dresser with my sister’s lower, less likely to tip forward dresser. My television still worked. I got yelled at to clean my room. (Really, that part wasn’t uncommon; my bedroom was like a child hoarder’s room with toys scattered across the place.) Nothing really changed, though. There were no additional steps taken for household safety. Nothing was ever tethered. Not even the bookcases. Considering what I climber I’d always been (and still am; short people need the boost), it’s a miracle that I survived. Even more astonishing is that I’d survived with nothing more than the occasional bruise.
Not everyone is that fortunate. Recently, two little girls in Pennsylvania died after a dresser fell on them both. That family lost both of their daughters because of an unfortunate accident. A good friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was at the hospital with her son. He was in pediatric ICU with seven confirmed skull fractures and other injuries. He climbed his dresser to get down a toy and it fell over on him. The television landed on his tiny little head. He will survive, but there’s no telling how much damage this injury will do.
This is not a parenting fail. This is an unfortunate accident that occurs because it just doesn’t seem like something that should happen.
If you haven’t taken this household safety step, please, do it now. Every year, children die from injuries related to televisions (particularly those flat screens), bookshelves, and dressers falling on them when they climb or tug. I got my husband to do so after using extreme guilt a few years ago: another blogger posted about how she’d lost her daughter to a dresser falling on her. He cried and felt guilty for putting off my request to tether the dressers, but got it done.
In the meantime, if you’re a praying sort, pray for my friend’s son. He’s a beautiful, vibrant little boy who is meant to have great things happen. And please, tether your furniture.