Last July, after two children died under the weight of falling IKEA dressers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a “repair program,” sending out wall anchors to the affected customers. According to a report on Consumerist.com, IKEA is expanding that program in the wake of a third child death. Federal regulators and the retailer are investigating the death of a toddler in Minnesota who suffered fatal injuries after an IKEA dresser fell on him.
So far, IKEA has sent out 300,000 anchoring kits to consumers who have previously purchased MALM three- and four-drawer chests and two styles of MALM six-drawer chests and well as other chests and dressers. In spite of the dressers being linked to the deaths of two young children, the retailer did not issue a recall. Instead, they launched a repair program where they sent customers wall anchors. The parents of the Minnesota toddler, who was the most recent casualty, said they had never heard of IKEA’s repair program.
Should IKEA Have Issued a Recall?
Product manufacturers know the challenges of getting word out to consumers about a defective product recall. Those challenges worsen when manufacturers try to let consumers know about a safety campaign or repair program. It’s hard to get the word out. That’s because the word “recall” carries more weight with consumers. It does a better job of getting their attention. However, the word “recall” can be more damaging to the manufacturer from a public relations perspective, which is why product manufacturers try to avoid it like the plague.
As product defect attorneys who represent the rights of injured victims and families, we sincerely believe that IKEA should issued a full-blown recall instead of couching it in obscure terms that consumers are less likely to understand. Even after saying that it will expand its repair campaign, IKEA hasn’t said how it’ll raise awareness.
Here are a few valuable tips for parents that could help prevent these types of tragic deaths:
• Buy furniture with wide legs or solid bases.
• Install drawer stops on chests and drawers.
• Strap furniture to the wall with safety straps or L-brackets.
• Do not put items such as toys that might attract the attention of a child on top of furniture.
• Wall-mount flat screen televisions.
• Place heavy items close to the floor on shelves.