How Furniture Anchors Help Save Children’s Lives
There are dangers lurking in every household in America. Children are particularly vulnerable to these dangers. These hazards are unsecured furniture, appliances, and televisions that can tip over and seriously injure or kill a child.
Between 2000 and 2010, there were 245 reported deaths of children under the age of 8 due to tip-over incidents. Of these, more than 90% of the fatalities involved children who were 5 years old or younger.
Unsecured furniture, appliances, and televisions can easily fall over onto young children. This often happens when kids attempt to climb onto furniture, whether it is bookshelf, dresser, or other item.
Televisions can topple onto children if a child runs into or bumps a television stand. In each of these situations, the weight of the furniture, appliance, or television can cause crush injuries to children. They can result in suffocation or fatal head injuries.
According to Consumer Reports, a person in the United States is injured every 20 minutes when a piece of furniture, a television, or an appliance tips over onto them.
The horrific case of Teddy McGee
One of these tragic incidents occurred in 2016. A 22-month-old little boy was killed when an Ikea dresser tipped over onto him in his family's home in Apple Valley, Minnesota. The young child had been napping in his room. His mother went to check on him and saw he was out of bed and the dresser had tipped over. The little boy was found under the dresser and was seriously injured. He was rushed to the hospital but tragically died from being suffocated.
The furniture involved in that incident was an Ikea "Malm" dresser. The family had purchased it in 2012. However, the Ikea dresser did not come with any tip-over safety devices, such as a wall anchor that would secure the furniture to a wall. This lack of a safety feature, specifically the lack of a furniture anchor, caused the death of this young child.
However, this little boy was not the first one to die due to Ikea's failure to provide wall-anchoring devices with its products. Several other children had died in tip-over incidents involving Ikea furniture before this incident. This includes a 2-year-old from Chester County, PA who was killed in 2014. As of June 2016, there were six reported fatalities of children under the age of 3 caused by tip-over incidents involving Ikea's "Malm" dressers.
These children's deaths prompted a safety recall issued by Ikea, in which 29 million Ikea chests and dressers were recalled due to the tip-over hazard. Ikea previously tried to issue repair kits to owners of Ikea furniture instead of recalling the products. However, not all consumers received kits or were aware of the repair program.
If Ikea had sold its dressers and furniture with wall-anchoring kits, along with clear instructions and warnings, multiple children's lives could have been saved. Instead, Ikea failed to provide a safety feature that would have protected young children and would have cost little to nothing to include with its furniture. Children died as a result.
How to install a furniture anchor to avoid tip-over accidents
Despite the wide availability of wall-anchor kits, tip-over protection devices, and other products, consumer groups have found that many people have not used them because they are not included with furniture, appliances, or televisions when they are purchased. Other people are unsure of how to install them or are intimidated by doing so.
However, using a wall-anchoring device is not complicated. There are a variety of devices available, including straps, wire kits, and cables. Some products are sold with anti-tip devices, and if so they should be used with the product. Otherwise, there are after-market products available that you can use even with older furniture.
One of the most important tips for installing an anti-tip device is to anchor it directly into a wall stud. For typical wood and drywall walls, anchoring a kit directly to a stud is necessary to prevent the furniture or appliance from tipping over. If a wall anchor is attached only to drywall, it may not be strong enough to stop the furniture from falling.
Another tip is to make sure the anchors attached to the actual furniture are secured to the stronger wood frame or solid wood piece. It is not safe to attach the anchor only to the thinner backing material of a dresser or wall unit. Find the solid wood portion of the furniture and use that to attach the wall anchor to the product.
See this video from Consumer Reports for installation tips for installing wall anchor devices:
If you have any question about which is the best or most effective one to use, contact the manufacturer or seller of the product you are looking to secure.
Taking the time to install wall anchors for furniture or televisions is vitally important to protect your children.
Resources for furniture tip-over prevention
There are a number of resources if you would like more information about furniture anchors and furniture tip-over prevention. Some of these resources include:
This non-profit organization was founded by Lisa Siefert after her young son, Shane, was killed in 2011. Shane died after trying to climb a dresser, which fell over onto him. Since then, Lisa and the foundation have advocated for children's safety from tip-over incidents and have promoted and provided wall anchors and other safety devices and information to educate people about these dangers.
Anchor It! is a government website that provides information, instruction, and resources for furniture safety. The site provides educational materials and videos for the use and importance of wall anchors and other safety devices.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains a government website that provides consumer safety information. This includes recalls and warnings related to certain products.
Kids In Danger is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting children by advocating for product safety. KID pushes for safety improvements for a variety of products, including furniture safety.
Furniture tip-over lawsuits
Manufacturers and sellers of furniture may be liable for injuries and damages if their products injure children. If a manufacturer or seller or furniture, televisions, or appliances fails to provide a furniture anchor or other safety device with the product, it could make the product defective. A product is defective when it is unsafe for its intended use.
A product may also be defective in Pennsylvania when it does not include necessary warnings and instructions. Furniture or other items that lack clear instructions and warnings for the installation or use of wall anchors may also be defective.
Contact our firm today if you or a family members has been injured in a furniture or television tip-over accident. Our team of experience product liability lawyers can evaluate any potential claim. The initial consultation is always free. We do not get paid a fee until and unless we recover money in a case.
Our firm always has a person available to answer the phone. Call our Philadelphia office at 215-914-6919 or our New Jersey office at 856-219-2481.