When furniture tips over, it frequently causes injuries, regardless of the age of the person it strikes. However, according to Consumer Reports, when furniture falls on children, the outcome is often fatal.
More than 11,000 children on average received treatment in emergency departments from 2017 to 2019, and between 2000 and 2019, 451 children died.
Tip-over design risks
What will make furniture safer? Many furniture manufacturers already make dressers, shelves and other items that have dimensions that prevent tipping. Some tests include a 60-pound weight applied to the front of the object similar to a climbing toddler. Heavier items with weighted backs and a shallower drawer extension are less likely to tip.
One way that parents can make furniture safer regardless of design is to anchor it to the wall. USA Today reports that, after a series of tip-over accidents and furniture recalls, Ikea recently announced that customers who buy furniture will have to acknowledge the need to anchor it to the wall before they make the purchase.
While this will raise awareness of the risk of tip-over accidents, not every person has the ability to anchor furniture to walls. For example, renters who cannot make holes in the walls, people with a lack of an appropriate wall stud to anchor the dresser to or those who lack experience with the proper tools for the job may not be able to safely anchor a dresser.
In spite of the statistics, the U.S. still does not have mandatory stability standards for furniture. However, Consumer Reports notes that there is a bill before the U.S. Senate that would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to mandate new and more stringent stability rules.
Until safety standards are mandatory, parents may need to research furniture and appliances carefully to determine whether the design is dangerous.