The death this week of 3-year-old Northbrook girl after a bookcase fell on her was a tragic, if not rare, case of tipped-over furniture or appliances injuring or killing a child, experts and safety advocates say.
Anna Heotis, of the 1900 block of Clover Road, was pronounced dead at 11:28 a.m. Wednesday at Glenview's Glenbrook Hospital, the Cook County medical examiner's office said. The incident happened shortly before 11 a.m. in her Northbrook home, officials said.
The medical examiner's office determined that Anna's death was an accident and was caused by suffocation and entrapment under the bookcase.
First responders were not able to resuscitate her, according to a Northbrook police news release.
"I'm really upset right now," said a woman who answered the phone Thursday at the house where the accident happened, declining to comment further.
Daniel Petka, a Northbrook Police Department spokesman, said police are not planning to release further information out of respect for the family.
"The family is really shaken up," he said.
Petka said he doesn't remember any similar incidents in Northbrook in the past couple of years. But such household accidents involving young children happen more often than one might think, experts say.
In January, a 4-year-old Aurora girl was killed after she climbed onto a stand to turn on the family TV set and it toppled over and killed her.
From 2000 to 2011, 294 children ages 8 or younger nationwide were killed after a TV, piece of furniture or other appliance fell on them, according to a report the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released in December 2012.
The majority of those deaths, 215, involved falling televisions, the report said. About 25,400 children younger than 18 were treated for injuries in similar incidents during that time, according to the report.
"It's an amazing number of children that go to emergency rooms because of these similar incidents every day," said John Drengenberg, a consumer safety director at Northbrook-based Underwriters Laboratories, which sets voluntary standards for about 19,000 categories of products, including TVs, furniture and other appliances.
Drengenberg, an engineer with about 45 years of experience in his field, said his company tests products that manufacturers send to them and recommends using safety straps and other anchoring devices to secure TVs and furniture that could tip over.
Federal rules don't require manufacturers include anchoring tools with their products. In addition, many furniture manufacturers don't send their products for testing because retailers don't always request it, he said.
"If it's an electric product, most retailers won't sell it unless it has a safety verification," he said, adding that his company has incorporated standards for testing anchoring means for furniture and other products within the past 10 years. "That's not the case with furniture."
Drengenberg said it is unknown how many furniture manufacturers actually test their products.
"The main thing we can do is to alert parents and caretakers who have young children in their home," he said. "Make sure you don't put anything up on the high shelf because kids will climb."
Barrington Hills resident Lisa Siefert, whose 2-year-old son, Shane, was crushed by a dresser three years ago, agreed there should be more done to bring attention to the dangers of furniture, TVs and other appliances tipping over.
"It's really important to show families that it does happen," said Siefert, who runs Shane's Foundation and calls for mandatory anchoring standards to battle tip-over incidents. "And it can be prevented."
Tamara Galenson, who lives near Anna's Northbrook home, said she has seen the family — a mother, father and their two daughters — garden in front of their house.
"It's a very nice family. The parents seemed to be very hardworking people," Galenson said. She said the family moved into the neighborhood about two years ago.
"I can't imagine something (like this) happening to my granddaughter," she said. "It's a horrible tragedy."