Product Liability

Toppling hazards in the home remain a threat to child safety

dresser tip over image courtesy Kayli Shoff via WSL CNN WSFA12 367x210 Toppling hazards in the home remain a threat to child safetyDespite parents’ best efforts, children manage to make jungle gyms out of household furniture and appliances every day, and though it may seem innocent enough, a dresser turned jungle gym can prove a deadly play toy. Even with growing awareness, toppling hazards in the home remain a threat to children.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates one child every two weeks dies after a TV, a piece of furniture or a household appliance falls on him or her.

Ikea recently paid $50 million to three families after each lost a child as a result of dressers toppling while being climbed. Camden Ellis, 2, Curren Collas, 2, and 23-month-old Ted McGee were crushed after Malm drawers from Ikea toppled onto them, according to BBC News. The families’ wrongful death lawsuits alleged that the dressers’ unsafe design made them unstable and easy to tip over, and that IKEA consistently failed to meet voluntary national standards for stability of its chests and dressers, according to Righting Injustice.

About three children per hour are injured from improperly secured furniture or appliances. Most often TVs and furniture fall on children, according to the CPSC. A television tipping over from an average size dresser falls with the equivalent force of being caught between two NFL linemen colliding at full-speed — times 10.

“As you childproof, you may not be aware that unsecured TVs, furniture and appliances are hidden hazards lurking in every room,” the CPSC website states.

Kaylie Shoff, whose twin boys had a dresser fall on them while they were climbing on its drawers, said she had never thought of needing to secure her sons’ dresser, according to WSFA 12. The incident was captured on a home security camera. Thankfully, one of the boys was able to push the dresser off of his trapped brother, and neither boy was hurt.

“Everybody needs to bolt down their dressers to the wall. I mean, we just didn’t think about it. So, accidents are gonna happen, so, we just want to spread awareness to this one accident that happened and hope that it doesn’t happen to any other families,” she said of her decision to publicly release the camera footage of the dresser toppling onto her sons.

Meghan’s Hope, created by Kimberly Amato to raise awareness after her daughter, Meghan, was killed at age 3 from a toppled dresser, states that unless all furniture, TVs and appliances are secured, the only way to protect a child from toppling hazards is to remove all TV and furniture from the home.

“A hole in your furniture or your wall can be repaired. The hole in your heart because your child has suffered serious injury or died because you didn’t secure your furniture and TVs is something that never heals,” Amato writes.

To prevent a toppling accident, the CPSC recommends:
• Installing low-cost anchoring devices to prevent TVs, dressers, bookcases or other furniture from tipping.
• Avoiding leaving items, such as remote controls and toys, in places where kids might be tempted to climb up to reach for them.
• Storing heavier items on low shelves or in low drawers.
• Placing TVs on a sturdy, low base and pushing them as far back as possible, especially if anchoring is not possible.

BBC News
Righting Injustice
Meghan’s Hope