It's an unimaginable tragedy no parent really wants to think about. In 2007, little 2-year-old Charlie Horn was trying to climb a 30-inch dresser, when it tipped over and killed him. Now Charlie's family is on a mission to educate parents about everyday safety risks — like inadequately secured furniture — that pose threats to kids with even the most conscientious parents. They started a charity in their hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, called Charlie's House, in memory of their precious boy, which provides information and resources to help parents protect their homes and their babies from the same types of accidents that took Charlie's life. Charlie's parents might have lost their son in a senseless household accident, but they want to save other families from making the same mistakes.
Charlie is far from alone. In fact, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, a child dies every two weeks from furniture tip overs. And a shocking number of kids — about 3 every hour — sustain injuries from being crushed under furniture. It makes sense, kids like to climb and open drawers, and shelves make excellent monkey bars. Kids are going to climb on the furniture. It's up to us as parents to make sure they're safe from being crushed.
Parents think about obvious things like household chemicals and electrical sockets when they're first baby proofing the house. But securing furniture to the wall, or even mounting a flat-screen TV can mean the difference between life and death. That's where the work of Charlie's House comes in, working to educate parents about the simple steps they can take to keep kids safe. Here's a Charlie's House safety checklist parents can use to get started.
And here's a handy graphic from the USCPSC Anchor It initiative to combat household deaths from furniture accidents that parents might find useful when trying to identify potential dangers.
Charlie's House also offers an interactive model of a house, called Charlie's Virtual House that illustrates where dangers can hide. It's a great companion to the household checklists. Charlie's House wants to give parents all the tools they need to avoid another preventable household accidents, and securely anchoring furniture to the wall to prevent tip overs is an excellent place for concerned parents to start.
But there are resources to protect your kids from all kinds of other dangers, too, including food safety, sun safety, distracted walking, fire safety, and poison prevention. But for obvious reasons, working to prevent tragedy from furniture tip overs is at the core of Charlie's House's mission.
Here's an excellent how-to video explaining the right way to install furniture straps.
Take a cue from Charlie's House and the Horn family and make sure your furniture is secured from tipping over on your little ones. It's a small step that can save lives.