5 On Your Side

More children being hurt by falling furniture

Posted May 4, 2009 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2009 7:07 p.m. EDT

From dressers to television stands, an alarming number of children are seriously hurt – even killed by falling furniture. A new study released Monday reveals the problem has increased 41 percent over 18 years.

"I think of Katie all the time. Every second of every day, I think about her," mother Judy Lambert said.

Lambert's 3-year-old daughter, Katie, was killed by a falling wardrobe.

"I ran and got to the room in a second or two and I didn't see Katie. I saw the mirrored wardrobe was smashed into a thousand pieces and she was underneath," Lambert said.

Erin Kaiser's 18-month-old daughter, Chloe, was crushed by a TV.

"My husband and I ran into the bedroom and picked up the television (and) all we could see were her hands and feet. She wasn't responding at all," Kaiser said.

A falling TV also left young Michael Stevenson with two skull fractures and hearing loss.

"Michael climbed up to the top of the dresser, grabbed onto the TV, and Julianne, my daughter, climbed on the drawers of the dresser," Shawn Stevenson, father of victim.

According to a study by Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, O.H., between 1990 and 2007, more than 260,000 children were rushed to emergency rooms due to injuries from falling furniture. Of those hurt, 300 died. Most were children ages six and younger, who were injured by climbing on drawers to reach TVs that were set on top of furniture not designed to hold them.

"Far and away the most common type of furniture that is related to tip-overs is the television. The traditional set is front heavy so it's prone to tip over and that's why we see so many of them among young children," said Dr. Gary Smith, with Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Kaiser's daughter climbed onto the drawer of an unstable TV stand. She and the other parents say they never realized furniture could be so dangerous.

"They're little. They only want what they want. You just have to try and protect them every which way you can," Kaiser said.

The solution is easy, only put televisions on very heavy and stable furniture that has no drawers. No matter what size TV you have, push it back from the edge of the furniture so that it is as close to the wall as you can get it.

Also, attach furniture to the wall, most new pieces come with wall brackets but few people use them.