Toddlers and Tipping Furniture

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child climbing up a dresser

Every year, hundreds of children suffer from serious head and internal injuries, suffocation and death due to furniture tip-overs.

When flat screen televisions were introduced into households, older and often heavier television sets were often placed on furniture that cannot handle the weight or size. 

More than 70% of reported television tip-over accidents occurred to children from one to three-years-of-age.

child climbing up a dresser

In 2020, IKEA agreed to pay $46 million for the death of two-year-old Jozef Dudek from California, after a Malm dresser, recalled in June 2016, tipped over and killed him.

Other pieces of furniture were related in similar tip-over deaths of eight young children causing the recall of 35 million dressers. 

IKEA created a social media campaign and related the potential hazards of tipping furniture to consumers as well as how to secure furniture with safety fasteners. 

IKEA has designed new dressers with stability features to prevent tip-overs.

Statistics

Nearly 80% of all furniture, TV and appliance tip-over fatalities involve children one to five-years-of-age.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, one child dies every two weeks and one child is injured every fifteen minutes from furniture or TV tip-overs.

Recommendations

  • Health Canada recommends buying only clothing storage furniture that meets the latest ASTM F2057 International Standard Safety Specification for chests, door chests and dressers. 
  • Before you make a purchase, check the label and ask the retailer if the dresser meets the required safety standards.
  • If you have older pieces of furniture, we recommend a visit to your local hardware store to obtain safety restraints or anchors, which attach to a wall, framing or other support so that tip-over entrapment hazards are averted.
  • Contact the furniture manufacturer or distribution company to inquire if retrofit kits are available.

Safety Tips

Discourage your children from climbing or hanging from furniture.

Choose bookcases, cabinets, television stands and dressers with a wide and stable base that sits directly on the floor. Models with legs or wheels are more likely to tip-over.

Reinforce furniture to the wall or dry wall stud using the appropriate angle braces, anchors or safety straps. If these items are included with the furniture, install according to manufacturer's instructions.

child stepping on credenza to reach TV

Place your television towards the back of low, stable furniture appropriate for the weight and size and if possible, fasten the television to the stand.

Toys, plants, remote controls, keys and brightly coloured items attract a child’s attention. Do not place these items on top of a television or tall furniture.

Always place heavier items in the lower drawers of furniture.

If your furniture has drawers, only open one drawer at a time to reduce the chance of tipping over. Pulled-out drawers can shift the weight of a large dresser and cause it to fall over. To deter your child from climbing or stepping onto the furniture, close all drawers of furniture when not in use.

Make a point of regularly checking furniture, televisions and appliances to ensure they are stable and secure and that electrical cords are out of children's reach.

Health Canada

Health Canada would like to remind Canadians to report any health or safety incidents related to the use of consumer products.  Public enquiries can be made at 1-866 225-070

Resources

For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following websites:

Consumer Reports – Their Children Were Killed by Furniture Tip-Overs…

Government of Canada (2018) – Product Safety Enforcement for Furniture Tip-Overs

Consumer Report – IKEA Settlement Furniture Tip Over Death

Consumer Report – Furniture Tip-Overs: A Hazard in your Home

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