Tipping hazards in the home

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ConsumerProduct safety

Furniture Stability

From a toddler’s point of view, home looks like a big playground. They don’t recognise the dangers.

The trouble is that most parents don’t recognise the dangers either.

Unstable furniture can tip over when a child climbs or pulls on it. This can cause serious injuries if it lands on top of them. It can be fatal. At least 14 children under nine years old died in Australia between 2000 and 2015 after domestic furniture fell on them. This is around one death per year. (Source: National Coronial Information System)

Of these injuries:

  • half were to children four years old and under.
  • 80 per cent of incidents occurred in the home.

Of these cases:

  • the three most common furniture items were chairs, chests of drawers/tallboys and tables/benches/desks.
  • the most common electrical appliance by far was television sets.
  • the three most commonly identified places the injuries happened were living/dining areas, bedrooms and family/rumpus rooms.

10 Tips to keep your baby safe 

This short film highlights the risks of furniture stability and tip-over injuries and gives you tips to make your home safer.

 

Anchor it and protect a child

This short film highlights the dangers of toppling furniture and provides information on how to correctly anchor furniture or heavy items. 

7 easy steps

Step 1—Look for stable-based furniture

Choose furniture with broad, stable bases instead of legs. They are less likely to tip if a small child climbs onto them.

Be particularly careful about:

  • freestanding bookcases.
  • television stands.
  • chests of drawers.

Step 2—Test before you buy

Test the furniture while you’re in the shop. Apply a little pressure to make sure they’re stable.

In particular, check any chest of drawers before you buy them. Young children may try to climb up drawers, like a flight of stairs. Pull out the top drawer and press down on the inside. Make sure that the drawers don’t fall out easily.

Step 3—Secure any unstable furniture

Secure unstable furniture to the wall. Do this with any furniture unit at least 1m tall, such as:

  • bookshelves.
  • television stands.
  • display cabinets.

Choose a sturdy means of securing them. This could be:

  • angle braces.
  • anchors screwed into wall studs.

Step 4—Choose safer tables

Choose tables that won’t tip over if a child climbs on them.

Glass tables should be made of thick, toughened glass. Unstrengthened glass can easily break, even under the weight of a small child. This may cause cuts as deep as stab wounds.

Step 5—Use child-resistant locks

Use child-resistant locks on all drawers. This will reduce the risk of children opening them and using them as steps.

Step 6—Reinforce behaviour

Always stop your children from climbing on any of your furniture. Make it very clear to them that it’s naughty behaviour.

Your children will learn this lesson quickest if you make it a simple rule with no exceptions.

Step 7—Don’t tempt your child

Never place tempting items on top of furniture. This might be:

  • feeding bottles.
  • favourite toys.
  • remote controls.

This encourages children to climb up and reach for them.

Factsheet

This information is summarized in the Furniture stability factsheet.

Report

If you think an item of nursery furniture or other household product is unsafe, you can report it.

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