Alexian Brothers spreads message that childproof homes include furniture anchors

August 1, 2013



A family tragedy has turned into a new life's calling for Lisa Siefert.

With help from the Alexian Brothers Health System in Arlington Heights, Ill., Siefert has taken on the task of educating parents and doctors on the importance of securing infant furniture and televisions to avoid accidents like the one that killed her 2-year-old son Shane in 2011.

The statistics are staggering: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, one child dies every two weeks when a TV, a piece of furniture or an appliance falls on him or her. In an average year, more than 22,000 children ages 8 or younger are treated for injuries related to instability or tip-overs. Sixty percent of those injuries are related to unsecured TVs.

Siefert had no idea about those statistics when she put Shane down for an afternoon nap on March 14, 2011. She and her husband Tim and daughter Darby, now 6, were all at home. Siefert felt she had made her home safe because "I went to Target and bought everything off their safety display and went home and thought I was set."

When she went to awaken Shane from his nap, she found him trapped underneath a low dresser in his room. He died later that day at Emergikids, the pediatric emergency room at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Siefert, a graphic artist who works for her family's business, established Shane's Foundation on Feb. 10, 2012 — the day after what would have been Shane's third birthday — to tell her family's story and to raise awareness of the problem of tip-overs.

She designed and began distributing educational materials about tip-overs at safety fairs and car seat checks.

But a chance encounter with Marcy Traxler, then director of pediatric services and now assistant vice president for business development at Alexian Brothers Health System, gave Siefert an opportunity to cast a wider net by networking with the health system's primary care physicians and pediatricians.

"Marcy helped me to work smarter," Siefert said. Seifert addressed physicians at a continuing medical education event at St. Alexius and is working with the gift shop there to offer a nursery gift that would include furniture straps and other safety items.

She can adapt the foundation's educational materials to include the name and/or logo of any hospital or physician.

"Pediatricians see 3,000 kids a year," said Traxler. "We want to make that a part of the conversation" at well-baby visits and routine vaccinations, she added. "People think about locking up cabinets and poison safety, but they don't think about TVs or what looks like harmless furniture."

Traxler also likes the idea of selling more safety items through the hospital gift shop.

"It's great to buy an outfit (for a new baby), but wouldn't it be better to get these safety items?" she asked.

Siefert has two other long-term goals related to Shane's Foundation. She wants to get furniture straps on the shelves of more stores, and she would like to see furniture manufacturers include straps and safety warnings as a standard part of their packaging.

She said it does not make sense to sell the furniture and the straps separately.

"That's like buying a car without seat belts and having them tell you to go somewhere else to buy the seat belts," she said.

The foundation, which operates entirely on donations, also plans to offer safety straps for those who cannot find them or afford them. Siefert takes no salary and said 100 percent of donations go back into the work of the foundation.

Traxler said the story of Shane's death "profoundly affected me."

"It's a terrible family tragedy that touched so many people," she said. "Lisa is trying to get the word out about what happened to her family and (to tell people), 'don't let that happen to you.'"

In promoting the work of Shane's Foundation, Alexian Brothers has an opportunity to "form a partnership to improve the lives of citizens in our community," Traxler said.

Information about Shane's Foundation is available at or by email at [email protected].

Preventing furniture tip-overs

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these tips to prevent tip-overs and keep children safe:

  • Anchor furniture and TV stands to the floor or wall with appropriate hardware, such as brackets.
  • Place televisions as far back as possible on sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV or on a low-rise base.
  • Place electrical cords out of a child's reach, and teach children not to play with the cords.
  • Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and furniture.
  • Make sure free-standing ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.

Copyright © 2013 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

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