Today, my friend Janet is sharing her personal story: An extremely important message to parents and caregivers of young children about the dangers of furniture tip-overs. Please use this opportunity to make sure your home is safe. Share this message. Visit Janet’s website for more information at www.janetmcgee.com.
Do you have a silent killer lurking in your home?
In your child’s bedroom?
But as the name suggests, it was quiet. It lurked. It was capable of killing. And it waited until the time was right (not for me, but for it) to attack. It attacked my 22-month-old son on Valentine’s Day in 2016 when he was in the “safety” of his own bedroom, alone. We thought he was napping, but when I went to check on him, the silent killer was exposed. No longer lurking, but it had exposed its capabilities to kill by smothering my son, causing him to suffocate rapidly.
What was it?
What was in my son’s room that was so dangerous?
Something we all have in our homes and bedrooms. A dresser.
That Valentine’s Day started out great. After church, my little Ted enjoyed a piece of chocolate on our drive home. By the time we pulled into the garage, he had chocolate smeared all over his face.
When I went to take him out of his carseat, I experienced one of those moments that all parents live for. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. That moment when you look at your child and he just seems so…. carefree. Unaware. Innocent. Happy. Looking at him with chocolate smeared all over his smiling face made me smile, too.
These are the moments when we, parents, remember that those daily stressors don’t mean anything; they are small. What matters most are these little moments in life when our children often teach us to just relax. Smile. Enjoy the day that God has given us. We don’t need to worry. Life isn’t as complicated as we think. To this day, I feel so blessed that God gifted me one of those moments the morning Ted died. He put this idea in my head to stop and embrace the moment. That today was the day of love, and my life was full of it.
After church, Ted and I blew bubbles together and played with his farm animals. He helped me clean the kitchen. While I was making lunch, he colored in the coloring book he had gotten for Christmas.
By the afternoon, my husband and other boys were just hanging out around the house and Ted was in his room for his nap. It was a normal, relaxing Sunday. Our day of rest.
The last time I checked on Ted, I quietly opened his bedroom door. I noticed he wasn’t in his bed. As I opened the door even farther, I saw his dresser had tipped forward and my heart sank because, given how quiet it was, I immediately knew he was under it.
The next part is like a bad movie that I can’t stop replaying in my mind. I’ll spare you the vivid details of what I saw and experienced next. It involved my husband and I performing CPR, paramedics arriving, my son being brought to the nearest hospital with a faint heartbeat, holding his cold hand and praying for a miracle, the dreaded “there is nothing more we can do” talk, and telling our boys in the hospital that their little brother had just died. From the time we found him under the dresser to the time we were driving home from the hospital, it was just four short hours.
We immediately thought this was a freak accident. However, in the days and weeks following Ted’s death, the truth unfolded. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a child dies every two weeks from unanchored TVs and furniture. Ted’s death was no freak accident. This realization brought on a devastating question that we think about every day since: could we have prevented his death?
I’m writing this to spread awareness of the dangers of unanchored TVs and furniture. I’m writing this for you.
Trust me, I’d prefer to not talk about it, to not re-live it again. It’s too late for my son and it hurts so bad to write that, but it’s the truth. It’s not too late for you, though.
I never want to come across as a self-righteous parent, wagging my finger in your face and telling you how to manage child safety in your home. I know when people treat me that way, I tend to tune them out. My purpose is to share my story, along with some facts and thoughts below. From there, you can decide what’s best for your home.
Facts About Furniture Tip-Overs
- TV and furniture anchor kits cost $5 and take about 10 minutes to install. My son might be alive today if I had known this and had installed one on his dresser.
- 91% of tip-over deaths occur in a home. Not just your home, but any home. With that in mind, here are a few things to think about. What homes do your children spend time in, even beyond your own home? Do they spend time at grandma and grandpa’s? Auntie’s? Friend’s? Do you have teenage children who babysit in a family’s home with unanchored TVs and furniture?
- In many instances, the sound of a dresser falling is muffled by the child’s body. We didn’t hear Ted’s dresser fall that day, despite the fact that some of us were in the room right next to him. From talking with other parents who have lost their children in tragic dresser tip-overs, many have had the same experience of going to wake up their child for breakfast or from a nap, only to find them under the dresser. The fall was never heard.
- A child dies every two weeks in the U.S. from falling TVs and furniture, and every 24 minutes a consumer visits the ER due to injuries related to falling TVs and furniture. These are not just accidents and deaths; these are preventable accidents and deaths.
- If a child is lucky enough to survive a furniture or TV tip-over accident, the leading injury is head trauma. This can mean a drastically different lifestyle and future for you and your child than what you might envision today.
- The safety standards for dressers being put onto the market today are voluntary, not mandatory. Furniture makers do not need to follow them to sell their dressers. The dresser that killed my son did not follow safety standards. The reality is that you likely have no idea which dressers in your home follow safety standards and which do not.
- Even unanchored dressers as short as 30 inches have killed children. I was shocked when I first learned this. I even got out a tape measure to visualize just how short that would be. It’s a little bit taller than my nightstand.
- Even sturdy dressers from reputable companies can tip-over. For more information on recent tip-over studies that have been conducted on dressers ranging from $89-$899, check out the FAQs section on my website. The results are shocking.
Parents and caregivers, along with my story today, I send you my love and support. Parenting in today’s world is hard. Parental judgment sits around every corner. We have new information being thrown at us daily. We get pulled in so many directions. We have fingers relentlessly wagging in our faces, telling us we need to do better.
The reality is that we all love our children deeply. We all want what is best for them. We are not perfect and we cannot protect them from everything, but we keep trying our best every day. And that’s what counts.
To see more photos of my little Ted and to learn more facts on furniture tip-overs and how you can prevent them from happening in your home, visit www.janetmcgee.com.
About the Author:
Janet McGee is a Christian, a wife, a mother, an author, and a speaker. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mortuary Science, and worked as a licensed mortician throughout most of her 20s. After attaining her MBA, she established herself in the corporate world for almost a decade. When her 22-month-old son, Ted, died tragically in 2016 from a furniture tip-over accident, she left her career behind to advocate for furniture tip-over prevention. To learn more, visit www.janetmcgee.com.