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The Big Number: Every 46 minutes, a child goes to an ER after furniture falls on them

Once every 46 minutes, a child is treated in an emergency room for serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries from furniture having fallen on them, according to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In the study’s 30-year span, 560,203 youths 18 and younger got ER treatment for such injuries — including 11,521 children in 2019, the final year of the research. About 70 percent of the injured children were under age 6 (with most being about 2), and nearly half of all injuries were to the head or neck area, according to the research published in the journal Injury Epidemiology. Overall, 575 children died of their injuries. The furniture causing the injuries included bookshelves, chests of drawers, wardrobes and televisions, although the number of TV-related tip-overs has declined with the increased use of flat-screen televisions, which are lighter weight and often wall-mounted. Still, 1,630 children were treated in the ER in 2019 for injuries from a toppled television and the furniture it was on or in. Furniture may topple when children pull themselves up on it or use drawers as steps to climb on, for instance. Safety experts recommend that furniture that could tip over be secured to the wall (called anchoring), that televisions be mounted on the wall whenever possible and that climbable furniture be clear of items that might look appealing to youngsters. Congress is considering legislation that would strengthen the safety standards for furniture prone to tip-overs, upgrading the rules from voluntary to mandatory and requiring manufacturers to test for safety and stability. The bill, known as the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act), passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

— Linda Searing

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