AKRON, Ohio — Alexandra Errington thought her toddler son was in bed.
But then she heard a crash and a scream "like I've never heard him scream before."
The South Akron, Ohio, resident rushed to son Jordan's room to find him on the floor, a dresser and TV set on top of him. The top of the dresser was pinning his legs up to his knees. The TV, which had sat atop the dresser, covered the 21-month-old from his thighs to his neck.
Errington doesn't know whether Jordan got up to change the channel or to get something from one of the dresser drawers. All she knows is that somehow he pulled the whole thing over on top of him.
She's not even sure how he managed it.
"I didn't think he was that strong," she said.
Fortunately, Jordan suffered nothing worse than a bump on his head. He was taken to the emergency room at Akron Children's Hospital and kept overnight, just in case.
Other children aren't so lucky.
Tip-overs of furniture, appliances and TVs send about 22,000 children 8 and younger to emergency rooms in the U.S. every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. From 2000 to 2010, 245 children died.
That's a child dying every two weeks.
As families across America gather in front of the new big-screen TVs they found under their Christmas trees, it's a good time to think about making homes safer for the littlest among us.
TVs are a good place to start. They're the biggest source of tip-over injuries — usually head and neck injuries — in children younger than 10, the Center for Injury Research and Policy reports. And of children who died in tip-over accidents, about 70 percent were killed by falling TVs, according to the commission.
Even something as simple as an infant or toddler grabbing onto a TV stand to pull himself up could be disastrous.
Don't think supervision alone is adequate.
"Kids are just looking to be active," said Lisa Pardi, a nurse at Akron Children's Hospital and its injury prevention coordinator. They bump into things, they climb things — and as every parent knows, they do it the moment your attention is diverted.
That's what happened last summer as my family was packing at the end of our beach vacation.
We heard a crash, and everyone went running. In the next bedroom, we found a tall dresser toppled and my cousin's 5-year-old granddaughter sprawled on the floor in tears.
Apparently, she'd used the dresser drawers as steps to reach something. Of course she shouldn't have, but is it reasonable to think she should have known better? And who spends the night in a child's bedroom to make sure she doesn't get into mischief?
Even if you don't have little ones at home, you probably have young visitors at least occasionally. So securing a TV — or any object that could tip — is a wise preventive move. Besides, as we've learned lately, a number of U.S. cities aren't immune to earthquakes, Pardi pointed out.
You can anchor TVs and furniture with straps made for that purpose. They're often available where baby-proofing items are sold, or simply type "furniture strap" or "TV safety strap" into an Internet search engine to find online sources. Some don't even require drilling holes into furniture.
The straps often have to be attached to a wall stud, but the damage is minimal and easy to repair.
Freestanding kitchen ranges should be secured with anti-tip brackets, as well. They can tip if weight is put on the open oven door. If you don't have the bracket that came with the stove, contact the manufacturer.
Other prevention tips can help, too. Pardi recommends putting a TV on a low, wide, sturdy base and making sure it's pushed back on the base "as far away from little hands as possible." Keep cords out of children's reach, so they can't use the cords to pull things on top of them.
Don't use shelves or dressers as TV stands, the Center for Injury Research and Policy cautions. They're not made to support the weight of a TV.
In bookcases and entertainment centers, place heavy items on lower shelves, the center says. Toys, remote controls or anything else that might tempt children should be kept off high shelves or the top of the TV, because children might try to climb to reach them.
Use desks with wide legs or solid bases. Install drawer stops on all drawers to prevent them from being pulled out more than two-thirds of the way.