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Usually when we think about injuries related to product safety, we think about something that went wrong with the product. We think of the big newsworthy, attention-grabbing cases of the gel fuel in fire pots exploding, or the infant baby bather collapsing in on itself or a car seat that doesn’t perform up to expectations in an accident. Those types of product dangers are significant and ones that we need to always be alert to if we are going to keep our families and loved ones safe.

But last month the Consumer Product Safety Commission drew attention to a different type of product safety issue, ones that speaks directly to the behavior of consumers in using the product: injury and death caused by TVs and furniture simply tipping over. Check out this handy info-graphic on tip-over deaths and injuries from the CPSC.

According to data from the CPSC, year 2011 was the worst year for this type of injury and death. In that year there were a total of 41 fatalities and the CPSC estimates that more than 43,000 consumers are injured each year in tip-over incidents. The overwhelming majority of those deaths (84%) are young children under the age of 9. These accidents happen when they are trying to pull themselves up to stand, or reaching for a special toy or simply just playing on furniture. When the furniture or appliance does tip over, severe head injuries or other traumatic injuries from the weight of the item falling are likely to occur.

Those are big numbers—and awfully innocent victims—to simply brush away and think “this won’t happen to me.”

I think we’ve all probably been there before. We purchase some new piece of furniture, appliance or television and in the rush to just get it set up so we can enjoy it, we ignore that last, pesky little installation instruction: “ANCHOR IT TO THE WALL”. A lot of products come with anchoring hardware, but how many of us get out the drill or screwdriver, find the anchor point, and actually put the finishing touches on installation?

Perhaps, in light of this new information we will start to. Product safety isn’t always just about what the manufacturer did or didn’t do before the product left the warehouse. Many, many injuries and deaths arise because consumers simply misused the product or failed to follow installation instructions. The CPSC is urging consumers to turn that behavior around. To help prevent these tip-over tragedies, here are some specific recommendations:

  • Anchor furniture to the wall or the floor.
  • Place TVs on sturdy, low bases, or anchor the furniture and the TV on top the base, and push the TV as far back on the furniture as possible.
  • Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children off of TV stands or furniture.
  • Keep TV and/or cable cords out of reach of children.
  • Make sure freestanding kitchen ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.
  • Supervise children in rooms where these safety tips have not been followed.

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