Monday, November 19, 2007

the lock down

Our kids are forever climbing things. They climb counters, they climb drawers, they climb wall units, they climb bookshelves, they climb trees.

When we visited relatives that live in a 2-story home, they climbed the outside of the stairs.

The children have recently figured out how to dismantle "kid-proof" knobs and can now open most doors. Because they have been expertly scaling baby gates for the past several months, there are very few things that can hold back these kids when they have their mind set to something. On more than one occasion, I've rattled windows with yelling when I've found a rogue child perched on top of their dresser trying to reach a book.

Or, their piggy bank.

Or, the CD player.

Or, to just sit and take a look around.

We're teaching the children that they can get hurt if they climb on things that are not intended to be climbed.

But because they are three years old, they don't yet fully grasp the concept of "consequences", even though they have taken their fair share of bad spills.

Charlie and I feel like our home is very well baby-proofed are we are vigilant about watching the kids when they are awake. We're always on alert to where they are and what they are doing.

But still, accidents can happen.

Yesterday afternoon, I was perusing various news articles, when I came upon this one.

It is the story of a little 2.5-year old boy named Charlie, who is a triplet. Earlier this month, Charlie woke up from his nap and climbed on top of his dresser to retrieve his glasses - when the whole thing tipped over on top of him, crushing him to death.

My heart dropped to my shoes when I read the story.

Parents think about plastic covers for electric outlets. They think about putting chemicals up high and buckling their children in to carseats. But how many people think about bolting their furniture to the wall? And if they think about it ... how many people actually do it?

I will be the first to admit that yesterday at this time, not all of the top-heavy furniture in our home was safely bolted in to studs. In fact, only one piece was "locked down."

But 24-hours later, my husband has installed safety hook & eye locks in to every bookshelf, dresser and free-standing cabinet in our home. Instead of using the small screw that comes with the kit, we purchased 41mm screws that can penetrate drywall and embed more securely in to studs.

Incredibly, it took for me to read the story of another family's heart breaking tragedy, before I finished something I should have done as soon as our children were able to walk.


  1. Great post. Thanks for the reminder, we have 2-year old twins and a 4-year old singleton and haven't done this yet, either.

    Love your blog, BTW.

  2. Isn't that story just heartbreaking? It was on the TC a couple weeks ago and made me cry! I'm glad you are taking precautions with your little monkeys.

  3. Yikes, I'd take the knives and Tylenol off the kitchen counter top too if I were you!!!!!

  4. I heard of this story too, it broke my heart! I felt terrible to think I have never done this even after remembering back to when my daughter was around 4 yrs and tip over the hutch on top of her desk...what if something terrible would've happened?! I would have never forgiven myself. Good job Jen for not delaying, and I'm really sorry that someone would judge you "anonymously" on your blog...I just wonder if she has kids. I love reading your stories and for the record I think you're a great mama!!!!!

  5. Yes that happen in my neck of the woods. Very very sad. I had a climber with my first one, I can't imagen THREE climbers. great post

  6. FYI there is a way to delete those awful rude anonymous comments. I know you have to see them BUT it might protect the rest of us from getting tick off too. You ROCK! anonymous is a coward! ps you can delete this one too:)

  7. wow, I'm really impressed that you went ahead and did that.

    is this the same "anonymous" who gave you a hard time for being too dramatic?

    let's just ignore her / him and hope she / he goes away....

  8. argh, i hear you! just another thing to give me sleepless nights. even before reading your post, i have this absolute terror that our huuuuge and heavy book case will come crashing down on one of our kids. i've never caught them climbing it (yet) but the first time could be their last... seriously, makes me ill to even think about it.

    my problem is this- we live in a rental property, and thus can't put bloody big screws in the walls whenever we want.

    any suggestions??

  9. sorry, can't even write my own freaking NAME (baby-induced sleep deprivation, when will you end?). It's SUSAN ;)

  10. Susan: I would bolt the furniture that you are worried about and patch up the holes when you move. The hole isn't totally gaping and it's extremely easy to patch walls. Or, if your walls have some kind of unusual finish (wall paper, or paneling) - your landlord could hold some of your deposit to pay for the repair. After reading the story about Charlie and watching my own kids in action - I can SEE how easily an accident like this could happen, especially as the kids get older & heavier.

    Anon: I'm sure if a baby-proof expert came through, there are a lot more things that we "shouldn't" do, that we do. We never leave medicine out where the kids can reach it. It was out in this shot, probably because we just took it. We use knives all the time, so those are kept out. Whenever the kids are in the kitchen - we are too. Not the same as when they might be scaling a dresser in their bedroom following a nap. I'm always weighing my risks and I haven't targeted knives on the counter as a big one. Although I probably should...

  11. Jen- our knives are on the counter just like that. Since my children have almost reached four without stabbing each other to death, mine are staying where they are. I didn't take my cacti out of the yard either and none of them have impaled themselves on a Saguaro yet either. We still have an oven and stove and no one has yet to burn themselves. They totally get that stuff is sharp or hot. They totally don't get that their weight could make something topple over. It's not something they understand.

  12. Have Charlie check the oven also because that can tip if not secured. I know mine does.

  13. That was my neck of the woods as well - I actually thought of your trio when I heard it...the interviews with the parents were so so sad; I can't even imagine what it must be like for them.

  14. I was wondering how you chose the safety hook and eye? Sadly, we read the same story earlier this month, and immediately strapped down our big bookshelves we had put off securing. We still have a few smaller pieces I want to secure, but i was wondering if there was a benefit to having the hook and eye instead of the straps?

    Also, as someone who sliced her hand open at 9, I can see why someone would be concerned. The Tot Loks are amazing, and as long as you can keep the key out of reach, your kids will probably never be able to finagle them open. Might be worth a try!

  15. Mir: I'm not sure how you'd strap things down? I like the hook & eye latch because one end screws in to the furniture and then latches on to the screw that comes from the stud in the wall. They were extremely easy to install.

    We have Tot Loks. They have been installed on almost every cabinet in our kitchen. I've had to mark the outside of the cabinet with a sharpie so I know exactly where the magnet is, otherwise, I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find it. That's not good when I've only got a few seconds to grab a cookie before the kids come find me...

  16. My oldest (now 9-1/2) did the climb & crash when she was 25mos. It never crossed my mind b/c she "wasn't a climber". She was fine with a concussion and no other problems. We were SO LUCKY!

    They have heavy-duty velcro style straps at Home Depot but they require bolting as well. Works great here in earthquake land.

  17. Jen4 -
    "I'm always weighing my risks..."

    That statement has stayed with me these last couple of days. That sums up parenting so well. Whether it's emotional well-being or physical safety, we are constantly on guard for the risks our children face. We have moved beyond the risks at home to the risks out in the world: "Should she be allowed to walk the mall with friends...?" "Should we allow him to drive to an OUT OF TOWN football game...?"
    I am so saddened by this terrible story of the little boy who died in his home. Perhaps his parents will someday take a small bit of comfort from the fact that many young parents are learning from their tragedy.

  18. These are the straps we have:

    There's two on each piece of furniture.