Personal Injury Attorney weighs in on furniture safety straps
IKEA, a popular Swedish furniture company, has been the subject of a recent lawsuit related to furniture tip-over accidents in which several children have been injured. Parents are encouraged to protect their children from tip-over accidents by utilizing safety features such as furniture safety straps or wall-anchor repair kits that prevent heavy furniture from falling on toddlers.
Why Is IKEA Being Sued?
IKEA furniture is popular with growing families due to the company’s good quality and affordable prices. However, the MALM dresser recently became the subject of scrutiny when a two-year-old was killed when he was pinned beneath a dresser that tipped over on him. The child’s parents filed the suit after the toddler’s death in 2014, claiming that IKEA knew of the risks posed by the dresser but continued to sell it. At least one other lawsuit has been filed concerning a toddler who died when a six-drawer IKEA MALM dresser tipped over. Both deaths occurred in cases in which the dressers were not secured to the floor or the wall with furniture safety straps and contained no security features to prevent tipping.
This summer, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC announced the launch of a dresser repair program for IKEA products. The company agreed to provide free wall anchoring kits and restraints for 7 million pieces of furniture, citing the deaths of the two children as the motive behind the offer. At least 14 other incidents have been reported, four of which resulted in injury. Even more damaging for IKEA, there is some evidence that the company knew of three other tip-over deaths of children due to unsecured furniture since 1989.
Statistics on Tip-Over Accidents due to lack of furniture safety straps
Tip-over accidents are far more common than many people realize. According to the CPSC, furniture and television tip-overs caused 430 deaths over the last 13 years and account for nearly 40,000 emergency room visits in the United States each year. Putting that into perspective, a child in the U.S. dies every two weeks and one is injured every 24 minutes, on average, due to furniture tip-overs.
A 2013 study for the journal Pediatrics indicated that 400,000 children have been treated in emergency rooms over the past 20 years for tip-over accidents. More than half of those involved television sets that fell on top of the child.
What Can I Do To Protect My Family?
About two-thirds of the 40,000 victims sent to emergency rooms each year are children under five; 80 percent of them are children under 10. Children are more likely to be injured because of their smaller height and the fact that they often climb on furniture to reach objects such as remotes. Parents are urged never to leave objects that might attract a child on top of a dresser or cabinet.
Another way that parents can ensure the safety of their children and prevent tip-over accidents is by securing their heavy furniture to the wall with a wall anchoring repair kit. IKEA’s repair program now offers all United States customers a free kit to use with MALM 3- and 4-drawer dressers as well as two models of 6-drawer chests and children’s furniture. The kit can be used with any dresser taller than 23.5 inches and all chests taller than 29.5 inches. The kits contain instructions for installation as well as hardware and will secure furniture against tipping over.