Ignorance Isn’t Bliss- Exercising Defensive Safety Practices

The video went viral. It was everywhere. Social media, television, and radio talk shows. Everyone was talking about it. It was one of the most heroic acts I’ve seen. And it was carried out by a toddler!

The parent’s originally put up a video monitor in their twin boys’ bedroom so they could keep an eye on them in their home. The video showed two toddlers attempting to climb onto a dresser and the dresser falling on one of them. One toddler became trapped under it while the other, his twin brother, bravely pushed it off. The parents became aware of the potential tragedy when they looked at a video of the incident. They made the video public in order to warn other parents of the dangers of unsecured furniture.  

As a parent and now new grandparent, I don’t want to imagine that something like this could happen in my home.  Are our homes really as safe as we think they are? Ignorance isn’t bliss when our children and grandchildren are a part of the equation.

A 2014 United States Consumer Product Safety Commission report found that approximately 360 children had been killed by falling televisions, furniture and appliances between 2010 and 2013 1. These heavy items, if not secured properly can be pulled and eventually fall causing injury and or death.

Just like we practice defensive driving when we are driving our cars, we should also be practicing defensive safety practices when we are designing, building and furnishing our homes.

An excellent resource in identifying potential hazards in the home and possible solutions is www.charlieshouse.org.  It lists a number of areas in the home that need to be reviewed when you have small children. Below are a few suggestions as well as some of my own that you can use to practice defensive safety practices in your home.

  1. Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stair
  2. Secure dressers (even short ones), televisions, bookcases, and other tip prone furniture to the wall with furniture straps
  3. Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers near the phone, including the number for the poison control center (1-800-222-1222)
  4. Learn about household poisons by always checking product labels
  5. Use electrical outlet plug covers or have tamper resistant outlets on all electrical outlets (see my blog on this specific subject)
  6. Shorten electrical cords on appliances that could be pulled down
  7. Lock or latch cabinet doors that children should not get into
  8. Use door hand covers to prevent children from opening doors
  9. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and change batteries every 6 months
  10. Set hot water heater below 120 degrees (F) to prevent scalding burns
  11. Move baby cribs away from windows
  12. Install window blind cord wind-ups to prevent children from getting tangled and choking
  13. Apply stove and burner covers
  14. Use back burners when cooking
  15. Purchase a fire extinguisher and store it in the kitchen
  16. Place knives and matches out of reach of children
  17. If you own a gun, ensure that its stored unloaded and locked with the ammunition stored and locked in a separate place
  18. Ensure that safety glass (tempered glass) is present in locations that present potential glass breakage such as sliding glass doors, storm doors, sky lights, shower doors and windows that are close to the floor
  19. Ensure that your free-standing stove/range is secured with an anti-tip device to prevent the stove from tipping over when a small child stands on the door
  20. Keep up to date with recalls of household items at the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission  https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/

The parents of the trapped twin who was rescued by his twin brother made the video public in order to warn other parents of the dangers of unsecured furniture. We spend the majority of our time in our homes. We need to do whatever it takes to make sure our homes are as safe and secure as possible for our families and all who may visit. Understanding is the remedy for ignorance. Will you heed the warning of the parents to secure properly any of your unsecured furniture?

1 https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/FY14AnnualReport.pdf

See news article and video of the Shoff twins: http://www.bradenton.com/news/nation-world/national/article124228734.html