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?

Household Safety – Tether Your Furniture

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.

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The Irony of Child Safety Month

September is Child Safety Month.  I remember horrible things that have happened to other children around Norton’s age.  Children not protected in an accident because of a correctly installed car seat.  An unsecured dresser falling on a toddler and killing him.  A little boy who was around Norton’s age wandering out of his home while his mother napped, only to be found briefly after his passing two days later.  A huge part of the reasoning behind Child Safety Month is to educate ourselves on these dangers in our homes and keep our children safe.

I’m afraid of those things happening.  It’s why we’ve taken steps with toddler safety in childproofing our home.  Norton is a little engineer who likes to investigate and figure out how things work; while he can figure out things that are far outside of his age range, he has no mind for what’s safe and what isn’t.  And since Eudora is just on the cusp of becoming mobile, that makes our safety efforts even more important.

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Toddler Safety – He’s a Runner

Ugh.  I hate it when toddler safety issues and toddler behavior and discipline issues are all one and the same.  It’s even less fun when the toddler safety issue is a potentially life threatening one.  So, what’s the issue?  Norton is an independent little boy.  He always has been.  And that’s great.   I also love that he’s so energetic and wants to run and play.  It’s fantastic that he’s curious about the world around him and wants to explore it all.  He’s completely fearless about his explorations.  Those are all behaviors that I want to encourage.  You know, except for when I don’t.  I don’t want to encourage those behaviors when he’s endangering himself.

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Hot Topic Tuesday – Are Locked Doors Safer or Hazardous?

I never thought that whether one did or didn’t lock a toddler in their bedrooms would be a hot topic.  Whether a parent is for or against door locks, there is one thing that they all agree on: it’s a safety issue.  Fire safety comes up a lot in this topic: pro-locked door parents prefer it because they know where their kid will be in the event of an emergency and can get to the child in a hurry.  Opponents of door locks denounce it because the kid doesn’t have a fighting chance at getting out on his or her own.

Me?  I fall under the category of “YAY for locks!” [Read more…]