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NEWS and NOTES: >> Furnishing Home with Safety in Mind:

TIPS ON FURNISHING YOUR HOME WITH SAFETY IN MIND

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Statistics show that consumers are as likely to be injured at home as anywhere else. Perhaps it’s because we spend so much of our time at home. And since we do, it’s important to be sure our homes are as safe as possible.

“Not only are today’s consumers looking for ways to express their own personal style in decorating their homes, they also are keenly aware of the importance of safety in choosing furnishings for their families,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association. “American consumers want their homes to be safe, secure and comfortable, in addition to being stylish.”

To help consumers in choosing safe products for their homes, the American Home Furnishings Alliance offers the following tips on furnishing your home with safety in mind:

  • General guidelines. Furniture surfaces should be smooth and free of splinters or rough edges. Nails, screws and other joiners should be tight and unexposed. Be wary of antiques or older pieces of furniture that may contain lead paint that could flake off.

  • Bunk beds. Bunk beds are not recommended for children under six years of age. The top bunk should have guardrails on each side, with no more than 15 inches open at each end. Rails should be secure and sturdy, and they should extend at least 5 inches above the top surface of the mattress. The mattress should be the proper size, as stated by the manufacturer. Always use a sturdy ladder to access the top bunk, and only one person should be on the top bunk at a time. Horseplay should not be allowed on or between the bunks. When purchasing a new bunk bed, look for a safety label that’s easily accessible and clearly stated.

  • Upholstery. When buying new upholstered furniture, look for the gold UFAC tag ensuring that the manufacturer of the furniture has agreed to meet the construction criteria outlined by the Upholstered Furniture Action Council. The voluntary UFAC program, developed 23 years ago, has been credited with contributing to the nearly 80% reduction in the number of upholstered furniture fires started by smoldering cigarettes. The gold tag ensures you’re buying a safer piece of furniture.

  • Cribs. Crib slats or spindles should be spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, and none should be loose or missing. Check to make sure all screws, brackets and other hardware on the crib are properly installed and intact. The mattress should fit snugly, with no more than two-fingers width between the edge of the mattress and the crib. Be cautious of hand-me-downs since they may not meet current guidelines for safety.

  • Dressers and chests of drawers. Drawers should slide in and out easily. When purchasing children’s furniture, check for automatic drawer stops that prevent the drawer from falling out on unsuspecting children. Open only one drawer at a time. And never allow children to stand in open drawers because of the danger of the piece tipping over. To avoid creating a temptation for children, refrain from putting enticing objects on tops of bureaus.

  • Bookcases. Be careful not to overload the shelves. In some cases, it may be a good idea to secure the top portion of the unit to the wall to prevent it from tipping over, especially if children are present in the home. In some pieces, especially in youth groups, a shelf unit attaches to a desk or chest. Always be sure those units are attached properly and securely.

  • Entertainment centers and TV stands. It’s important to use the correct size furniture to house your television. Because of their weight, especially the popular larger models, TVs can fall forward if they are not properly supported. Furniture manufacturers offer a wealth of entertainment centers designed to accommodate today’s electronics, so there’s sure to be a piece to suit your needs.

  • Storage and toy chests. Be sure lids are protected with safety latches that prevent the top from falling freely or slamming shut on fingers or a child’s head. Lids also should not lock automatically. If you have an older chest without safety latches, it is recommended that you contact the manufacturer for a replacement latch or remove the lid.

  • Reclining chairs. Voluntary industry guidelines have made today’s reclining chairs safer, but children should never be allowed to play or climb on the chairs, particularly when the chair is in a reclined position.

Choosing furnishings wisely and using them properly – with safety in mind – will ensure that you and your family are safe, happy and comfortable at home.

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance is headquartered in High Point, N.C. – the furniture capital of the world – and represents more than 200 leading U.S. furniture manufacturers and 250 suppliers to the industry.