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The Importance of Baby-Proofing Furniture

By Kim Robson:

When I was a kid, I had a six-foot-tall bookshelf in my bedroom. One day my mom caught me climbing up the shelves to reach something on the top. She made sure I understood how dangerous that was, and made me promise never to do it again. That’s what stepladders are for. I probably did do it again, but I was at least aware enough to be careful.

In those days, baby-proofing furniture by bolting it to the wall was unheard of, but that’s really what my folks should have done. Green Mom founder Fredrica Syren, who is the mother of two avid young climbers, had a professional secure all the furniture in her kids’ bedrooms.

Just recently, a viral surveillance video dramatically illustrated just how quickly disaster can strike. Two-year-old twin brothers Brock and Bowdy Shoff were playing in their room in Orem, Utah. The boys had pulled out two drawers and were attempting to climb inside. The leverage they placed on the drawers caused the entire dresser to topple over onto Brock, pinning him underneath.

In the Shoff’s home surveillance video, we see Bowdy struggling for nearly two minutes to free his brother from under the dresser. After a few excruciating seconds of uncertainty and calculation, he first tries to lift the dresser, but it’s far too heavy. Then Bowdy shoves on the dresser with all his might, rocking it just enough for his twin to roll free.

Luckily, Brock was unharmed. When the boys’ mother, Kayli, checked the surveillance camera, she saw the dresser lying on the floor. “It’s kind of a miracle. It’s something really special, to see how Bowdy helped Brock,” she said.

The Shoffs initially were reluctant to post the video on YouTube, but they wanted to highlight the importance of securing children’s furniture. “I’ve been a little hesitant to post this. But I feel it’s not only to bring awareness, but it is also incredible. We are so grateful for the bond that these twin brothers share. We know Bowdy was not alone in moving the dresser off of Brock. And feel blessed that he is ok. Please make sure all your dressers are bolted and secured to the wall. Please share.”

“We were hesitant to post this video initially,” said Ricky Shoff, the boys’ father, “but a lot of parents have probably made the same mistake that we made: [they] don’t have their furniture secure or bolted to a wall. We didn’t hear anything. We normally hear them throwing their toys – they are super mischievous.” Ricky Shoff works for a company that sells home-monitoring systems and had installed surveillance cameras throughout his home.

Brock and Bowdy were lucky. Their dresser was made by IKEA, the Swedish furniture company that recently settled a lawsuit to the tune of $50 million after three boys, all two-year-olds, were killed by its Malm line of dressers. “This video shows the importance of attaching all chests and dressers to the wall,” said IKEA spokeswoman Mona Astra Liss. “We want to emphasize that the best way to prevent the tip-over of chests of drawers is to anchor products to the wall. IKEA has included restraints with our chests of drawers for decades, and wall attachment is an integral part of the assembly instructions.” IKEA announced last summer that it would recall more than 100 lines of dressers, including the Malm. It offered customers refunds or free wall-anchoring kits.

Don’t have small children to worry about anymore? Furniture restraints can be lifesavers if you live in earthquake country. They are inexpensive and easy to install — certainly within the skill set of most homeowners. This kit’s restraints are made of high-grade galvanized aircraft steel that can hold up to four hundred pounds, and they’re tamper-resistant. Or hire a handyman to do the grunt work. But just DO IT already. Your family’s lives might one day depend on them.

About Kim Robson

Kim Robson lives and works with her husband in the Cuyamaca Mountains an hour east of San Diego. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, cooking, and animals. She has written a blog since 2006 at kimkiminy.wordpress.com. Her interests include the environment, dark skies, astronomy and physics, geology and rock collecting, living simply and cleanly, wilderness and wildlife conservation, and eating locally.

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