Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=200071
Story Retrieval Date: 4/17/2015 11:54:59 AM CST

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Courtesy of Lisa Siefert

Lisa and Shane Siefert, before he was killed by a falling dresser last March. Lisa is fighting to spread awareness about tip-over safety.


Barrington Hills mom turns son’s death into a mission to save others

by Jenna Barnes
Feb 09, 2012


Thursday would have been Shane Siefert’s third birthday.

But tragedy struck one afternoon last March as the Barrington Hills toddler was alone in his room for a nap.

When Shane’s mother, Lisa, went to wake him she made a discovery so gut-wrenching that her screams were unrecognizable.

“I found my baby under his dresser,” she said, her voice trembling as she recalled the memory.

Siefert said it’s likely Shane had been climbing on the short, three-foot-tall dresser when it came crashing down on him. He died from his injuries.

Since her son’s death, Siefert has been working with Safe Kids Chicago to spread awareness about furniture and television tip-overs, helping other parents avoid accidents like Shane’s and sparing them her pain.

Every two weeks, a child is killed by a falling piece of furniture or a television, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

“It’s awful and 100 percent preventable,” Jessica Choi, of Safe Kids Chicago, said. “We clearly aren’t getting the message out quickly enough.”

Spreading the word in Chicago, where falling TVs have killed four children since October, is especially important. Wednesday night in the city’s Gresham neighborhood, a 2-year-old was critically injured by a falling TV.

“I know what the family is going through, and it’s the worst thing you can imagine,” Siefert said. “I am in so much pain.”

Siefert has created informational brochures that she distributes to pediatricians, hospitals and moving companies, hoping to inspire other parents to make changes that could save their children’s lives.

The solution, she said, is simple. It’s something she wished she knew about last year. Parents can eliminate the threat of tip-overs by securing furniture and TVs to the walls with safety straps. It’s not complicated or expensive – they’re sold for as little as $2 – but many parents are unaware it’s an option, she said.

That could be due to a lack of exposure. To purchase safety straps, parents have to look online or at specialty baby stores, she said. The straps weren’t available or even suggested at the children’s furniture store where Siefert bought Shane’s dresser, and they aren’t sold at major retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy.

“Not only do they not carry straps, but they don’t even know what they are most of the time,” Siefert said.

While she pushes to make the straps more accessible, Siefert is warning her peers against assuming that good parenting is enough to keep their kids safe. Accidents happen no matter how closely you watch your kids, she said.

Josh Berliant, president of Chicago-based Baby Solutions Child-Proofing Services, said he sees a similar invincible attitude in his clients. He likened it to driving without a seatbelt: Everyone knows it’s dangerous, but some people do it anyway because they assume they are safe.

“We can shout it from the mountaintops,” he said, but parents will still ignore the warnings.

However, as Lisa Siefert knows first-hand, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“Hopefully some parents will get the message and make some changes,” she said.