For parents, the idea of a furniture tip-over accident can be terrifying. Over the past ten years, IKEA dressers have tipped over and caused the deaths of six children. The Malm dresser, which is one of the company’s most popular products, also happened to lead to the death of a two-year-old child.
In 2016, IKEA recalled 29 million dressers. The recall was re-announced in 2017.
IKEA recalled not only the MALM but more than 100 other types of dressers.
In the U.S., someone is injured every 17 minutes when furniture, a TV, or appliance tips over, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Most of the most severe injuries and deaths related to furniture tip-overs occur in kids younger than six. It usually happens because the child plays in a drawer or attempts to climb the piece of furniture.
To be fair to IKEA, they do now put warnings on their furniture and advise you to take the proper precautions to secure it to the wall, but it’s not just IKEA furniture that has the potential to tip over.
The following are some things to know about preventing furniture tip-over in your home.
General Things to Know
First, nearly half of all tip-over deaths occur when children are alone in their room, often after a nap. This is something to keep in mind as you’re planning how to prevent this situation in your own home.
You should avoid putting TVs on top of dressers because many fatalities involved a combination of TVs and dressers tipping together.
The best way to prevent tip-overs according to Consumer Reports is to secure dressers to walls.
Always follow manufacturer guidelines for how much weight can be safely put on a piece of furniture. Also, realize that even a flatscreen TV can topple if it’s on a piece of furniture that’s not able to hold it.
TVs as well as the furniture itself should be strapped to the wall.
Don’t store things that a child is going to find appealing on top of furniture, such as their toys or a remote. Children might climb to try and reach them. Don’t ever open more than one drawer at a time, and install drawer stops to prevent drawers from being pulled out.
Remember to supervise children carefully not only in your own home but when you’re visiting other people’s homes.
How to Secure Furniture
You can purchase furniture restraints, which are also known as furniture tethers or anchors. Even though a piece of furniture might come with plastic cable ties, it’s best not to use those. The plastic can weaken over time and break. You might also be able to use an L bracket for some furniture.
You should use at least two restraints for each individual piece of furniture, and if you have a wide piece of furniture, it might need more. If you have a stacked piece of furniture, then anchor the top piece to the base, and then anchor it to the wall.
When you’re installing the furniture restraints, they need to go into a solid piece of wood on the back or top of the piece of furniture. Some pieces of furniture will have an ultra-thin piece of wood or material on the back, and that isn’t going to be strong enough to hold the screw you need to use on the restraint.
Use a stud finder to locate a stud and don’t attach a product with plastic drywall anchors.
After you install restraints, make sure they’re tight and then check them on a regular basis to make sure they aren’t getting loose.
If you’re not especially handy or confident in your ability to do the above, hire someone to help you.
The Best Furniture Straps
Finally, there are a few types of furniture straps and brands that are especially well-rated.
The Safety 1st Furniture Wall Strap is one example of a product that helps prevent accidental tip-overs of furniture and has high user ratings.
These straps can be used for shelves, chests, armoires, or bookcases. You can’t see them from the front when they’re installed, and each strap can hold up to 200 pounds of force.
Another option is the Kid Co Anti-Tip Furniture Strap that comes in a pack of two, and you do need at least two straps per piece of furniture.
There’s something called the Kidco Anti-Tip TV Strap for flatscreen TVs. These can be installed with screw mounts, and they’ll keep the TV from toppling off the piece of furniture it’s on.