As the stores take down the Valentine’s Day decorations and hang up shamrocks, you might be at home smiling at that fantastic flat-screen TV you bought for the big game. Between the holiday sales and the Super Bowl, prices couldn’t have been better. And the technology is, well, just so cool. The choices make my head spin and make TVs just a few years old seem like no comparison at all.
While you make your St. Paddy’s Day plans, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Heather Poole want you to add one more item to your list: hardware to brace the TV.
I can’t describe Heather to you without using the word “brave.” She lost her 3-year-old son Brayden on December 31, 2011, when a TV set and dresser fell on top of him. Brayden’s death was tragic, preventable, and sadly, one of many which have occurred the very same way in recent years. Heather has become a tireless advocate, determined to prevent the same thing from happening to other children.
Furniture tip-overs are among the top hidden hazards in American homes. A child is killed every two weeks due to a furniture tip-over, and 70 percent of fatalities involve a TV.
I also can’t share with you the depth of Heather’s grief, because words can’t capture it.
“There isn’t a word for a parent who loses a child,” Heather told reporters at a press conference at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in November. “You aren’t a widow, you aren’t the same person you were before. You just know you’d give anything, including your own life, to have your child back.”
When we hear heartbreaking stories like Brayden’s, we sometimes want to change the channel and pretend the hazard doesn’t exist in our own homes. But turning the page won’t keep your child safe. Instead, take these simple steps:
• Find the hazard. Look from a child’s eye level at your home, especially at TV sets and other heavy pieces of furniture.
• Brace it. Use anchors to secure furniture and TVs to the wall or floor. Place your TV on furniture that has a low, sturdy base, and push it as far back from the edge as possible.
• Prevent it. Supervise children closely, and teach them not to climb on furniture. Keep remote controls, toys, cords, and other items that might be attractive to children off TV stands or furniture. If children are visiting you and there are hazards in a room, restrict access to the room until you can address the risk.
• Tiffaney Isaacson is the injury prevention coordinator at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Reach her at (602) 546-1712.