At least 22 children under the age of nine have died in Australia from toppling furniture or televisions in the last 15 years, with children under three years of age at greatest risk.
And it is estimated about 50 people receive hospital treatment for injuries caused by toppling furniture and televisions each week.
A new campaign by The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), in partnership with Kidsafe, urges parents to check their homes for dangerous and potentially deadly situations caused by unstable furniture.
Melanie Courtney, CEO of Kidsafe Victoria, said that children’s curiosity and lack of awareness of danger placed them at increased risk of injury from TV and furniture tip overs. “Children are naturally inquisitive and common household furniture can look very different and interesting from a toddler’s perspective – for example, they may see items of furniture like bookcases and shelves as a ladder to gain access to reach an item that is stored up high.”
ACCC Acting Chair, Delia Rickard, said she strongly encourage parents and carers to check every room in their home for toppling hazards and anchor any tall or unstable furniture or large TVs. “If you don’t have anchor kits, you can buy them cheaply at hardware stores or furniture retail outlets,” she said.
Ms Rickard said that the ACCC will work with retailers to increase awareness about the dangers posed by unstable furniture, including ensuring retailers supply appropriate anchoring devices to consumers, better in-store signage is displayed, and warning labels are affixed to products.
- Buy low-set furniture or furniture with sturdy, stable and broad bases.
- Look for furniture that comes with safety information or equipment for anchoring it to the walls.
- Test the furniture in the shop to make sure it is stable. Pull out top drawers of a chest of drawers, apply a little pressure to test stability, and make sure the drawers do not fall out easily.
- Attach, mount, bolt or otherwise secure furniture to walls and floors.
- Do not put heavy items on top shelves of bookcases.
- Secure televisions to the wall.
- Discourage small children from climbing on furniture.
- Do not put tempting items such as favorite toys on top of furniture that encourage children to climb up and reach.
- Do not place unstable furniture near where children play.
- Put locking devices on all drawers to prevent children opening them and using them as steps.