The nation’s ‘first safety-demonstration home’ will break ground in KC

Charlie Horn, 2, was killed Nov. 1, 2007, when a dresser tipped over on him. Charlie’s House will be a child-safety demonstration house.
Charlie Horn, 2, was killed Nov. 1, 2007, when a dresser tipped over on him. Charlie’s House will be a child-safety demonstration house. Brett Horn

A new home to be built at 24th and Campbell streets in Kansas City will arguably be the safest one ever.

It will be a place where children don’t get killed by furniture tipping over on them, where they don’t fall down stairs or get scalded by something heating on the stove.

It will be Charlie’s House, named in memory of a Kansas City toddler who was killed nearly 11 years ago when the 2-year-old apparently tried to climb a 30-inch tall dresser that then fell on him.

“The concept is that we are going to be building the first safety-demonstration home in the nation,” said Brett Horn, Charlie’s father. “A place where parents and caregivers can come and learn to properly child-proof their home.”

A ground-breaking event for the $1.1 million Charlie’s House on Hospital Hill will be 4-6 p.m. Wednesday. Parking will be east of Campbell Street and south of 25th Street.

Visitors eventually will be able to go through the house room-by-room to learn safety practices that go beyond the basics ones like plugging electrical outlets and securing drapery cords.

People will learn about things like safe sleeping, pool and grill safety and securing toxic substances such as medications and lithium button batteries. There will be video instruction.

The garage will also function as a meeting room and for parenting classes.

A small retail area will offer some basic equipment, like straps to anchor furniture and televisions to the wall. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there are an average of more than 33,000 emergency room visits a year from tip-overs.

In 2007 a group of child safety advocates were gearing up to start an education campaign. When Charlie, one of triplets born to Jenny and Brett Horn, was killed that year in November, it seemed appropriate to attach his name to the nonprofit project. The Horns have been passionate about it ever since.

A model home in an Overland Park subdivision served as a temporary safety-demonstration home six years ago, but the permanent one will offer much more.

Charlie’s House entered a long-term lease with Kansas City for the publicly owned lot, which is next to the Turn the Page KC literacy initiative. The groups are complementary in that they both are geared to help children and parents.

“Charlie’s House will always be about Charlie, for me,” Horn said. “But it’s really gratifying to see that it has grown into a child-safety resource for so many people in the community. We are truly accomplishing our mission.”

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