The Dangers of Falling Furniture

Children love to climb, and regardless of how many times we tell them not to, they’re going to climb anyway.  As soon as your back’s turned, they’ll climb stairs, on the sofa, the dog or furniture. Tragically, climbing on furniture is how thousands of children each year are injured or killed.

Recently, a father in South Carolina was convicted of child neglect after a dresser fell on and killed his 18 month-old-child.  Last February, in my hometown of Macon, Georgia, a 17-month old died when a dresser with a TV on top of it fell over on the toddler. Sadly, these stories are not isolated events. Every day children are accidentally injured or killed from a falling television, furniture or appliance.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2000-2011, there were 294 children who died when furniture, a TV, or appliance fell on top of them.  That’s one child every 2 weeks.  As shown in the following chart, there are 25,400 children injured every year from falling furniture, which averages out to be 71 injuries per day.

Having raised two children, I recall warnings about the dangers of kids climbing on furniture, so I secured furniture that appeared wobbly or top heavy, but mistakenly, I did not secure what I thought to be short, sturdy furniture.  Surprisingly, furniture you think wouldn’t tip, can, and it can happen quickly, even with parents or babysitters in the house.  Luckily, I have no personal incident to speak of, but there are many devastating stories of people who didn’t secure what they thought to be “safe” furniture, and their child was injured or killed because of it.  Please take the time to read about one such heart-rending loss and the resourceful information at I also urge you to watch a brief CPSC video that shows how easily furniture and TVs can tip over.

There are things you can do to prevent such accidents from happening:

  • Secure furniture (dressers, bookshelves, plant stands, TV stands, etc.) to the wall or floor.  You can buy security latches in the baby department at stores like Walmart or Target or online at  They cost about $5.00 and it takes about 15 minutes to attach them.
  • Place TVs or computer monitors on sturdy, low bases, and anchor the furniture, or anchor the TV on top of the base, making sure to push the TV as far back as possible.
  • Make sure any cables or cords are out of reach of children, as these can be tripped over or used to pull the TV off the stand.
  • Make sure free standing appliances (i.e., stoves, mini-fridges, microwaves, air conditioners) are secured with anti-tipping latches.
  • Think about the weight, size and stability of other objects in your home.  If anything could fall and injure a child it should be secured.

These tragedies can happen to anyone, anytime.  Please take a few short minutes to secure items in your home and homes where your child will be staying.  Make sure heavier items are on the bottom of shelves, drawers are secured, and toys are not placed high where children would want to crawl up to retrieve them.  Please spread the word by sharing the Anchor It and Protect A Child flier published by the CPSC.   You can download or share a copy here.
















Fatal Auto Accident in Macon, Georgia Involving Chevy Cobalt

There was a fatal auto accident in Macon, Georgia over the weekend.  It was a single car accident involving a vehicle that went off the road and hit some trees.  Other than the terribly sad loss of life, this particular accident caught my attention because the driver was driving a 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, which is one model recalled by General Motors.   Phillip Ramati’s report about this accident for the Macon Telegraph specifies that the accident is being investigated, so it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the cause of the wreck.

The recalls for GM are growing.  On March 28, 2014, GM recalled an additional 824,000 cars sold in the U.S.  Their most recent recall is due to the fact that the vehicles might have been repaired with the faulty ignition switch that I wrote about in my previous blog post.  According to GM, the faulty ignition switches were sold to dealers and wholesalers and used to make repairs on some vehicles.   There were about 95,000 defective switches sold, with about 90,000 used to make repairs.  The additional vehicles added to the recall include: the 2008-2010 models of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and G5, and the 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHR.

But the recalls don’t stop there.  On March 31, 2014 GM recalled another 1.3 million vehicles for a sudden loss of electric power steering assist, a separate issue from the faulty ignition switch.  Models affected by the power steering recall, which includes the 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, can be found at


Recall of GM Vehicles with Faulty Ignition Switch

Imagine driving down the Interstate at 70 miles per hour and your car suddenly shuts off, disabling power steering and power brakes, and preventing airbags from deploying.  That’s exactly what can happen if you’re driving one of the 1.6 million cars that have recently been recalled by General Motors.

The problem that can create this deadly situation is a “faulty ignition switch.”   If your key ring is too heavy, or if your keys are bumped while in the ignition, the ignition can switch from the “on” position to the “accessory” or “off” position, causing the car to stall, disabling electrical components and airbags.

According to GM, the faulty switch is linked to at least 31 crashes and 12 deaths; however, this number may be inaccurate.   According to a letter from the Center for Auto Safety to the N.H.T.S.A., (a copy of which can be read at:, an examination of data shows as many as 303 deaths could be linked to the faulty ignition switches in the recalled cars.

What is particularly disturbing is the fact that it appears from news reports that GM knew about the faulty switch as early as 2001, but did not issue a recall until 2014.  They have now offered to fix the defect or pay $500 to those who want to purchase a 2013 or 2014 GM car.  Unfortunately, the fix, which only costs between $2-$5, comes a little too late for many people who have been injured or lost their lives as a result of the defect.

One such loss occurred four years ago, a 29-year old nurse in Georgia was killed when her Chevrolet Cobalt crashed.  It was found that the engine was not running and the switch was in the “accessory” position. To see more about this tragic loss and an explanation of how the ignition can slip into the off position, go to

All of the cars recalled thus far for this particular defect are 7 years old or older, which could present a problem notifying current owners, since many of the cars are probably now owned by second or third parties who may be difficult to locate.

So what should you do if you own one of the recalled vehicles?

GM will fix the problem free of charge, but the fix won’t be available until April 7th.; Therefore, owners should immediately separate their vehicle key from their key fob, any other keys or a key ring and use only your car key while driving.  In addition, you should be careful not to accidentally bump the key while driving.  If you are uncomfortable driving your car, GM dealers are supposed to provide rentals free of charge until the fix is available.  Owners, however, are required to contact the dealer about any loaners.

Following is a list of recalled GM cars affected by the Faulty Ignition Switch:

  • 2005 – 2007 Chevrolet Colbalt and Pontiac G5
  • 2003 – 2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2006 – 2007 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2006 – 2007 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2007 Saturn Sky



How to Stay Safe When Parasailing

With spring break quickly approaching, many families will head to Florida for some much needed fun in the sun. Being from Georgia, my family and I go to Florida nearly every year.   A couple of years ago, my then 11-year-old son and I decided to Parasail, which is one of the more popular activities for both kids and adults. Right there on the beach were several Parasailing stands, with a line of people excitedly waiting to be tethered to a canopy that is secured to a boat that will fly them weightless, high above the water.  While it all seems safe enough, I have since learned that there are no regulations governing the 120 parasailing operators in Florida, and this lack of regulation can  result in a tragic outcomes.  Here’s a link to an ABC news story about a parasailing accident.

 According to the Parasail Safety Council, of the estimated 153 million parasailing rides between 1982-2012, there have been 73 deaths and over 1600 injuries.   The most serious injuries occur when tow lines separate, sending parasailors flying untethered through the air into fixed objects, such as buildings or power lines, and during unplanned high-speed water or deck landings.

Currently, there are no regulations governing the parasailing operations in Florida.  That means that ropes are not inspected for wear and tear, and it is up to the operator to decide if weather conditions are too dangerous to take the trip.

With more oversight, these injuries and fatalities can be prevented.  Legislation has recently been proposed that would include the following regulations for parasailing operations in Florida:

  • Parasailing equipment would be inspected
  • Operators would be required to have insurance
  • Operators would be forbidden to offer rides when winds are above 20 mph, gusts of wind are 15 mph or greater, and when there’s a known lightning storm 7 miles away
  • Operators would be required to carry special weather radios to alert them of up-to-date weather conditions
  • Operators would be prohibited from operating near fixed objects

Currently, when you choose to Parasail, there is no way for you to know how many times the ropes securing you have been used to secure other people, nor how much salt and rain the ropes have been exposed to.  Even more sinister is the uncontrollable weather.  Storms and high winds can happen quickly and unexpectedly in Florida, which can result in serious, sometimes fatal consequences.  If you decide to Parasail this spring break, there are some precautions you can take to make it a safer experience:

Be aware of the surrounding weather conditions.  Check the weather report on the day you are scheduled to parasail.  Do not parasail if there is fog, wind, rain or an approaching storm within 7 miles.

  • Regardless of what parasail operators tell you, you should not parasail if you are under 12 years old or if you have physical limitations.
  • Ask how long the company has been in business and make sure the company is licensed.
  • Check to see if the boat operator is a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Captain.
  • Finally, make sure that the operator goes over safety and evacuation procedures and there are hand signals to follow should something go wrong.

While parasailing is fun and millions of people will choose to do it this year, keep in mind that there is no one governing the operations of the parasailing company that you are trusting to carry you or your loved ones 400 feet in the air, so it is up to you to make it a safe flying experience.

*Additional safety precautions may be found at the Parasail Safety Council website:

Cool – and Useful – New Safety Device for Older Cars

New cars come with all kinds of safety features, like lane departure detection, automatic braking when cars ahead are too close, pedestrian detection, and many others.  The problem is that cars with all these safety features can be pretty expensive.

Now there is a device that can be installed on older cars that incorporates many safety features founds on luxury cars.  It is called the Mobileye.  Consumer Reports has tested it, and found that it delivered on its promises.  The video is really cool – they show the mobileye alerting to pedestrians, the car drifting out of its lane, and the car coming too close to a vehicle in front of it.

Please take a look at the video review that CR conducted last month.  And take a minute to review the more comprehensive list of safety features as well.