A recent Consumer Reports study has shown that injuries from furniture tip-over accidents are only causing more and more injuries to children. According to the latest data, 2,800 children in the U.S. were injured by tipping furniture in 2016, an increase of 33 percent over 2015. Even though the reasons for the increase are unclear, Consumer Reports researchers say it may simply reflect the increasing availability of products that are not manufactured with safety in mind.
The Problem With Dressers
When it comes to kids, the biggest culprit in tipping accidents is the dresser. For children who are under the age of 6, dressers pose the biggest danger. There are a few reasons for this. First, dressers are placed in bedrooms where children are most likely left alone to nap. So, adults are less likely to stop them from climbing. Also, pulled-out drawers look like stairs tempting young children to climb on them. More than 80 percent of all furniture tipping accident injuries and deaths happen to children under the age of 6.
Despite these facts, safety standards for dresser manufacturers are completely voluntary, which means these companies are not required to comply with them. Consumers don’t get any information about which manufacturers comply with standards. The industry standards, which call for a dresser to remain upright when a weight of 50 pounds is placed on an open drawer, are simply not good enough, researchers at Consumer Reports said. They say the weight associated with that standard should be increased to 60 pounds, which is the average weight of children under 6 in the United States.
Consumer Reports tested 24 dressers of different sizes and price points and found that there were dressers that passed the weight test in all categories. What this means is that it’s not the price or materials that make the furniture safe, but good design. Even Ikea’s Malm dresser, which was recalled after the death of three toddlers, passed two of the three Consumer Reports tests, but not the test with the 60-pound weight. There is no way a consumer can tell whether a dresser will tip.
What Can Consumers Do?
There are things consumers can do to prevent these tragic tip-over accidents. First, do not put anything enticing or large on top of a dresser such as a television or toys that children may be tempted to climb up and retrieve. Use wall anchors to attach the furniture to the wall. Wall anchor kits are often included with a new furniture purchase. They are also easy to find online. Until manufacturers improve their safety standards, the burden may simply be on consumers to protect themselves and their little ones, which is undoubtedly unfair.