This blog will explain what needs to be anchored, why, as well as how to choose a furniture or TV anchor and how to install it. Everything you need to know is written here, complete with clickable links to quickly find the resources you need! So let's #AnchorIt!
Why do I need to secure my furniture? Do I really need to secure all it?
We know tip-overs happen about every 24 minutes, that's about 60 times a day. About every 43 minutes a child is injured seriously enough to be taken to the ER due to a tip-over incident, some with life-changing and debilitating injuries they may never fully recover from. That's approximately 33 children every single day. About every 12 days, a child dies from a tip-over. That's a minimum of 30 children a year. Every single one of them could have been prevented if the furniture or TV that fell on them was secured to the wall.
The reality is that ALL of your furniture needs to be secured to the wall, because you cannot tell by looking at a piece of furniture (or a TV) whether or not it could tip-over. It does not matter how short or tall it is, how heavy or light it is, who made it, where you bought it, how long you've had it, or how safe you think it is, The only way to prevent a tip-over is to properly secure all of your furniture and TV's to the wall. It is a dangerous misconception that only light and inexpensive dressers are the only furniture at risk. Children (and adults) have been killed by dressers, wardrobes, bookcases/shelving units, TV stands/entertainment units, and other pieces of furniture outside of the bedroom. Meghan weighed 28 pounds, her dresser more than 150. It took 2 adults to move it. We never thought it could tip-over, yet it did, and it killed my Meggie. When you know better, you do better. Thanks to Meggie, you know better.
But I have a flat screen TV now, do I really need to anchor it? It's so light!
The number of deaths and injuries due to TV's has decreased as people have gotten rid of the old tube style TV's and replaced them with flat screens, but they still happen. It's important to realize that even flat screen televisions can still cause serious injury or death if they fall. Think of the weight of your furniture and TV's in terms of bowling balls. A 20 pound TV is the equivalent of 2 bowling balls falling on your child's head or chest. That is enough to break bones and cause a deadly head or chest injury. That visual should help you understand why it doesn't take something heavy to cause a catastrophic injury.
So what causes a tip-over? Isn't it just IKEA or cheap furniture and dressers I have to worry about?
Furniture and TV's tip-over because of physics, and while children are the most frequently injured and killed, adults are also injured and killed every year due to a tip-over! It is absolutely not just dressers or inexpensive/IKEA furniture that is at risk. ALL furniture has the potential tip-over onto your child if it's not anchored to the wall.
Your child can interact with a piece of furniture or TV 100 times. 99 of those times, nothing may happen, but one of those times, just the right circumstances will occur that will cause that piece of furniture to fall on them. You don't know if that time will be the first, the 5th, or the 100th. Don't take the chance! $5 and 15 minutes would have saved Meghan's life if I understood the dangers. Take the time, spend the money, and secure your furniture today!
Please visit the following Web sites to learn more about why anchoring furniture and TVs it is so important. Especially if you don’t think it’s necessary to anchor more than just your child's dresser!
- CPSC's Anchor it Website (important statistics and resources)
- How it happens, video from the CPSC:
- Meghan's story from the CPSC
- Real moms urge you to anchor it
- A compelling story from a parent
- Consumer Reports tip-over research and reports
- Netflix documentary BROKEN: Deadly Dressers
- My safety blog
What do I use to anchor my furniture? How do I choose the right and safest anchor?
It's important to realize that furniture anchors are not all created equal, and many are not tested to see how much weight they can actually hold, so they can give a potentially false sense of security.
It's also important to realize there is no mandatory standard for testing of furniture anchors, so a "test" could simply be an adult pulling on a strap once to see if it holds. That does not actually simulate the forces of a child climbing, pulling, or otherwise interacting with a dresser multiple times every day over the course of years. And one company's "test" is not the same as another's, if they test it at all.
There are also a lot of "copycat" anchors out there that look like name brand anchors, primarily sold online, and they are less expensive and often made with inferior materials and thus, more likely to fail. I recommend you avoid those. Hint, if they are not listed below, or made by one of the companies listed below, they are quite possibly inferior products and not recommended.
It's very important to realize that the anchors must hold not only the weight of the furniture, but also what's in/on top of it, plus at least an additional 60 lbs (to simulate the weight of a 6yr old climbing on it), so you often need more than one anchor or multiple sets of anchors (if they come 2 to a package for example) to secure one piece of furniture, depending on how much weight the anchor can hold. It's best to overestimate!
Professional childproofers strongly recommend anchors that have no plastic parts that can become brittle or break, and anchors that have been lab tested for weight capacity if possible. This can be a simple and inexpensive "L" bracket, any steel cable style anchor, or a heavy duty furniture strap with metal attachments for the wall and furniture side. These are included in my resource list here.
Devices that can be used to secure furniture safely:
They can be found at any hardware store, come in different lengths and widths depending on your needs. Inexpensive and effective. Need appropriate sized and length screws as well. Not sure what you need? Just ask an employee at the local hardware store!
Safety First Furniture Wall Straps
Safety First Furniture and TV Combination Straps (either furniture, or TV, or both)
KidCo Anti-Tip furniture Straps
Quakehold furniture straps option 1 and Option 2
Hangman Anti-Tip kit (up to 400lb) and how to install
Quakehold Heavy Duty Steel Furniture Cable
Safety Innovations Furniture and TV Straps (hold 150-200lb per manufacturer)
Additional Important Information:
- All anti-tip devices must be secured into a stud in the wall and into SOLID WOOD, not into the flimsy press board backings of some furniture. If you do not have wood studs, inquire at your hardware store or with a professional childproofer as to what type of bolts or fasteners and style of drill bit you need to use for brick, concrete, horsehair walls, or other non-traditional material.
- Not all devices work for all pieces of furniture or in all locations where that furniture might be in a room. You need to choose carefully and appropriately.
- Even if secured, you must periodically check the straps to be sure they are still secure and not pulling out of the furniture, TV, or wall- plastic parts especially can become brittle or break over time or with repeated forces being applied to them, causing them to fail. This is why I recommend choosing anchors with no plastic parts if possible.
- You may need to rearrange furniture to make it safe and attach it to the wall safely. Visible anchoring devices or furniture in a different place than you would prefer it are a small price to pay for your child's safety.
- You may need to remove furniture that cannot be safely secured or gate off or restrict access to rooms where furniture and TV's are not safely secured.
- Don't forget to secure appliances, filing cabinets, and other non-traditional furniture that poses a tip-over hazard.
- Don't forget to check if furniture and TV's are anchored at the homes your child visits, including in home and institutional day care centers.
IMPORTANT: Even if your furniture comes with a restraining device, it may not be sufficient to hold the weight of the furniture! I strongly recommend you use a store bought restraining device instead of or in addition to any anchor that comes with furniture. Anchors sold with furniture are not currently required to be tested for safety and there is no guarantee they will safety hold the furniture to the wall
Note: I do not recommend the use of cable ties or Mommy’s Helper Furniture Straps as they are plastic cable ties and will likely not bear the weight of most fully loaded pieces of storage furniture and the plastic cables often become brittle and break easily after a short time and feel they give the user a false sense of security. I have personally had this specific furniture strap fail (the cable tie snapped) after only a few months of use.
TELEVISIONS: Devices to secure TV’s to the wall:
The safest way to secure a TV is to purchase a flat panel TV and mount it directly to the wall. If you cannot do that, please use one of the devices below. Even large rear projection and other big, heavy TV’s do pose a danger and should be secured if you cannot replace it with a flatscreen. If you dispose of a tube TV, remove it from your home and cut the cord so it cannot be used unsafely elsewhere and recycle it properly. Some electronic stores will take them back for recycling!
Safety first furniture and TV Strap
Hangman Anti-tip Flatscreen TV Strap and how to install video
Quakehold Straps Big Screen and Appliance Strap
KidCo Anti-Tip Television Strap (for flat screen TV’s)
HOW DO I PROPERLY SECURE FURNITURE TO THE WALL?
You can find many how-to videos on YouTube, but these are two I recommend.
CPSC How to anchor it video for anchoring furniture
Consumer Reports Video on how to secure furniture to the wall
But I don't have the right tools or I'm afraid I can't do it right. What can I do?
If you don't have the right tools (drill, stud finder, measuring tape), are unsure how to use them, are worried you'll do it wrong, or if you have a spouse or parent who isn't willing to do it for you, don't worry! There are other options!
- Ask a handy friend, neighbor, or family member to help you! Either to borrow the tools, show you how to use them, or help you do it. Even if your spouse or parent is against it, they won't undo it once it's done! You need to do what's best to protect your child.
- Get together with a group of friends. Buy them pizza and have them over for an "anchoring" or childproofing party! Then next weekend, you return the favor for them! This is a great idea for expecting or new parents, or anyone who has friends/family who also want to secure their furniture/TV"s and childproof!
- You can hire a handy man or professional childproofer to help you. You can find professional childproofers in your area at the International Association for Child Safety
Where to buy anti-tip devices?
You may find some of the products at some 'big box' department and home improvement stores (or their Web sites), stores that sell other childproofing supplies, and online at Amazon.com or sites that sell safety devices for the home. Not all stores carry them, but many do have them on their websites. If they don’t carry them, educate them and encourage them to stock them! Amazon.com carries all the brands recommended here.
If you still have questions, you can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org