Inspired by the relaunch of http://www.meghanshope.org/, we are sharing this worthwhile article with you again (it ran in baystateparent 2004):
Meghan Agnes Beck
October 23, 2001 - December 18, 2004
Meghan's Hope Could Save your Child's Life
A Must-Read for Every Parent
By Carrie Wattu
Kim Beck was well-aware of the challenges of keeping children safe. A childbirth educator at UMass Memorial Hospital and owner of Blossoming Belly, providing education, preparation, and support in the childbearing year, Kim and her husband, Ralph, childproofed their home with the commonly used devices such as outlet covers, cabinet latches, and gates. They even went so far as to secure a bureau and a bookshelf to the wall so that they would not fall and injure one of their three young children.
The Becks considered securing their 3-year-old daughter's dresser to the wall, but because it was a heavy, well-made, top-of-the-line piece, they never imagined it would tip or fall, let alone kill anyone. They were terribly wrong.
A Week Before Christmas
It was a week before Christmas, and Kim and Ralph were preparing for a night out at a holiday party in their Sterling neighborhood. Before they left, their daughter Meghan, "Meggie," bounded up to her parents offering a spontaneous, "I love you Mommy! I love you Daddy!" As Kim reflects, their free-spirited and energetic Meggie was intuitively saying good-bye to them.
The next morning, Meggie woke up early and played in her room while the family slept. A while later, Kim and Ralph heard Meggie's twin brother crying in his room across the hall. As Ralph settled Ryan, he walked by Meggie's quiet bedroom, assuming she had fallen back to sleep. Now they believe they had experienced a special twin connection. Ryan had been crying out when Meggie couldn't.
The Becks did not hear Meggie's dresser fall. She did not or could not cry. She died within minutes. They presume Meghan was climbing in the drawers of her dresser. Ralph found his daughter trapped under the weight of her furniture.
Kim began CPR while their neighbors, an EMT and a physician, as well as an ambulance rushed to their aid. Meghan was taken to Clinton Hospital and lifeflighted to UMass Memorial where the Becks were told that Meggie had died. Kim and Ralph took their time holding Meggie and saying good-bye. The nurses gave the Becks a lock of Meghan's sunny blonde hair and took impressions and paintings of her little hands and feet.
Kim, Ralph, 6-year-old big brother, Kyle, and twin brother, Ryan, are devastated by the loss of their beautiful, sweet Meggie. Happy Meggie, filling every room with her gleeful giggle and michievous spirit, loved butterflies and Tinkerbell. Her second home was Davis' Farmland as she often asked her parents to "Go Farmland!" But Meggie's real passion was kittens, calling her beloved kitties "Duncan" and "Munchie". Her favorite movie was Aristocats, and she wore her pink kitty shirt and sparkle pants whenever she could. After she died, all those who loved Meggie and were touched by her story donated over $6,000 to the Sterling Animal Shelter as Meghan became known as the "kitty angel."
Falling Furniture Injures Many Children
Sadly, Meghan is not the first child to die from falling furniture. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 8,000-10,000 children are injured each year from furniture that falls or tips or from items on top of furniture or on shelves that fall off onto the child. About six children die each year from falling furniture; however, the number may be higher because death certificates usually cite the cause of death (such as blunt head trauma or airway compression) but may not cite the falling furniture as the cause.
Despite the danger, many parents childproof their homes and miss this important safety step. Consider how many homes your children regularly visit (grandparents, day care providers, friends) who do not have their furniture secured.
6 Common Misconceptions about Childproofing Furniture
Since Meghan's death this past December, the Becks have found six main reasons that parents give for not properly securing their furniture. Here Meghan's Mom responds to the misconceptions parents have.
Reason #1 "The odds of severe injury or death from unsecured furniture are low."
Just because the odds of severe injury or death are low doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. It is truly better to be safe than sorry, trust us. To think that if we had spent a few dollars and a few minutes our daughter would be alive today is almost unbearable. Don't make the same mistake.
Reason #2 "We are always with our children."
It is virtually impossible to be watching your children at all times, which it is why it is so prudent to take every precaution you can. Don't believe that you will hear the furniture fall and help your child. Through our Web site, we met the Lamberts of Pennsylvania whose 3-year-old daughter, Katie, died in January 2005 after her wardrobe toppled on top of her when her mother was in the next room. (Visit www.katieeliselambert.com). We have also heard from several parents who were in the same room as their children when a dresser fell on them.
Reason #3 "Our children know not to climb furniture."
Even if an older child understands the “rules," that child is still a kid. Play is the work of children, and in their play they tend not to remember the rules or the reasons for them.Games of hide and seek can easily turn tragic in the blink of an eye as can just about any active game of play. How many children are told not to leave the yard, talk to strangers, go near water without an adult, or handle a gun, and then do just that? Do you think any parent of a child who has suffered a serious and debilitating injury, died, or been abducted thought it would happen to them? We didn’t. And it did. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Reason #4 "Our furniture is heavy and well-made. It will not fall."
Meghan's dresser was a top-of-the-line, heavy piece that two adults could barely tip but 30-pound Meg did. Many people think "good" furniture won't tip, but it's just as likely and maybe even more deadly because it is so heavy.
Reason #5 "It's on our list. We just haven't gotten to it yet."
If you don’t have the time or the know-how to install safety products, there are professional baby proofing companies who can do it for you.
Reason #6 "Truthfully, we don't want to put holes in our walls."
It is better to have a hole in your walls than a hole in your heart. Trust us. Holes in your wall can be fixed; broken hearts can't be.
What you Can Do
The Becks acknowledge that you cannot possibly protect your children from everything; life itself is a risk. However, there are simple, easy, and inexpensive things you can do to avoid tragedy.
1. Buy furniture straps/brackets made specifically for securing furniture. They are widely available online. Visit www.safety1st.com; www.kidcoinc.com; www.safe-tots.com; www.babygates.com; www.perfectlysafe.com; or www.onestepahead.com.
2. Secure dressers, bookcases, entertainment cabinets and TVs, armoires, baker’s racks, hutches, toy boxes, large appliances, any piece of furniture with shelves/drawers that can be climbed in or upon, no matter how sturdy or well-made you think it is or whether or not you think your child could or would climb or cause it to fall. Don't wait. Do it now.
3. Screw furniture into both the wall (into a stud) and the furniture itself. If a wood beam is not accessible use mollys or toggle bolts to give added strength.You may also purchase an inexpensive stud finder to find the studs in the wall.
4. Put heavy or interesting items on the lowest shelves and drawers. You never want to entice a child to climb a piece of furniture.
Courageously Kim and Ralph offer Meggie's story as a gift to other families. They believe their daughter was taken to keep other children safe. Their Web site, www.meghanshope.org, has already urged hundreds to take the necessary safety precautions in their homes. The Becks are working with state and federal lawmakers on establishing furniture safety standards including warning labels on furniture and having safety brackets sold with all pieces of furniture.
Kim and Ralph beg parents to secure their furniture and to pass their story along, "To think that if we had spent a few dollars and a few minutes, our daughter would be alive today is almost unbearable. Don't make the same mistake. Securing your furniture is easy and inexpensive, and the life you save may be your own child's."
To read more about Meghan's Hope and safety-proofing your home, please visit www.meghanshope.org. For more information on Kim Beck, visit www.blossomingbelly.com.
Carrie Wattu is editor of baystateparent Magazine.