Opinion: A five-dollar furniture anchor would have saved my son

SHARE Opinion: A five-dollar furniture anchor would have saved my son
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Shane Siefert died when a dresser fell on him.

I’m a suburban Chicago mom of two children. My daughter Darby will be nine in July, and my son Shanewill be two forever.

Shane passed awayin 2011, when he was just two years old, from a furniture tip-over. “Love you,” werethe last words he said to me that day, from his bed as I closed the door for him to take his afternoonnap. When I came back to wake him, I found him underneath his dresser. As my husband was cominginto the house at that moment, he didn’t recognize the noise he was hearing. It was my screaming.

OPINION

Like many families, my husband and I had installed all the well-known baby-proofing items beforeShane’s arrival, including gates for the stairs and covers for every outlet. I didn’t know that furniture andtelevision tip-over injuries and deaths are an all-too-common occurrence in this country, especially forcurious children who climb on furniture. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product SafetyCommission, on average, tipped furniture or falling televisions send a child in the U.S. to the emergencyroom every 24 minutes. Each of these incidents could be prevented if parents and caregivers installedsimple, low-cost furniture anchors.

I started the nonprofit Shane’s Foundation in honor of my son to warn families of this much-misseddanger. I now spend much of my time sharing Shane’s story and home safety tips with parents,caregivers and other child safety organizations.

This month CPSC launched a national public education campaign — Anchor It!outlining the dangers ofTV and furniture tip-overs in the home and explaining how to prevent these tragedies by safely andeasily anchoring furniture. Shane’s Foundation is partnering with the Anchor It! campaign to help informour community of this hidden danger.

Parents and caregivers can find details about the dangers of unanchored furniture along with key safetysteps to take for anchoring furniture at AnchorIt.gov. The steps include:

* Televisions should only be placed on furniture designed to hold a television, such as television stands or media centers.

* Televisions that are not wall mounted should still be anchored to the wall or base furniture.

* Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from thetop of the TV and furniture.

* Keep heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.

* Existing furniture can be anchored with inexpensive anti-tip brackets – some costing as littleas $5. New furniture, such as dressers, are sold with anti-tip devices. Install them right away.

* Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly secure TVs and furniture.

If you have children in your home, even if they are not your own children, I urge you to visitAnchorIt.gov. Use the tips and the information provided there to help you secure your furniture andtelevisions to protect children. The threat might be serious, but the solution is simple: anchoring is easy,

The four members of our family went to the hospital together that day, and when we came homewithout Shane, we had to tell Darby that the doctors couldn’t fix him. Later when she’d ask where he is,we tell her that he’s in our hearts.

Shane will always be in our hearts. And if I can help prevent even a single additional furniture tip-overfrom injuring or killing another child, his legacy won’t just be in our hearts, it will last forever.

Lisa Siefert is the founder of Shane’s Foundation. She lives in Barrington.

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