5 On Your Side

Officials warn of tip-over deaths

Posted September 22, 2009 5:20 p.m. EDT
Updated September 22, 2009 6:09 p.m. EDT

Parents know that heavy furniture – whether an entertainment center, a dresser or a television – can be deadly when they're not properly secured.

Sylvia Santiago lost her 2-year-old daughter last year after she was crushed by a TV.

“I woke up at 5 o'clock in the morning to the sound of the TV falling. I did not know she was underneath. So I called her name, ‘Jania, Jania, where are you?,’" Santiago said. “And I turned around and I just saw her legs under the TV."

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

“My husband had run into the bedroom and picked up the television and all we could see were her hands and feet,” Kaiser said.

A wardrobe cabinet fell on top of 3-and-a-half-year-old Katie Lambert as she tried to open it. Her mother, Judy Lambert, said she “heard a crash” and got to the child within seconds.

“(I) saw that this piece of furniture was smashed in a thousand pieces. When I saw her under the glass, I knew that I lost my daughter,” she said.

Between 2000 and 2006, 134 children 5 years old and younger died after being crushed by falling furniture, TVs or appliances. In 2006, 16,300 young children were treated in emergency rooms after tip-over accidents.

“The most important thing for parents to know is that most, if not all, of these injuries are preventable,” said Dr. Gary Smith, of the Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is again urging parents to secure TVs, furniture and appliances with heavy straps or metal brackets. People are also urged not to put televisions on a dresser or other type of furniture not designed to handle the weight.

But even stands made for TVs can be unstable.

“It was a TV stand that had a drawer in it and she got up into the drawer and the whole thing just collapsed on her,” Kaiser said.

“You just don't think of televisions or bolting your dressers to the wall. You don't think of those things,” Santiago said.

“The bottom line is that you don't want to have to say goodbye to your child in the emergency room. Things are preventable,” said Katie Lambert’s father, Bob Lambert.