Most parents know to look out for common dangers in the home that have the potential to injure their child, like household chemicals and cleaners, open windows and staircases. While they might be quick to purchase cabinet door locks and baby gates, parents could be missing a danger lurking in every bedroom of their home—the risk of injury or death from tipping furniture, particularly dressers. Sadly, government statistics estimate that a child dies every 10 days when a TV or other piece of furniture falls on them, yet there are currently no mandatory safety standards for dressers and they are often not recalled even after a death or injury. In an effort to change this, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is focusing their attention on these risks via proposed legislation and an outreach campaign.
According to government statistics, dressers have contributed to over 300 deaths since 2000. The CPSC estimates that 15,600 consumers are injured each year from tip-over accidents, 91% of which occur in the home. Dressers are uniquely dangerous because they are often top-heavy and loaded with clothes, and toddlers can pull out their drawers to use as steps for climbing. This means many dressers can easily be pulled down, falling with enough force to cause devastating injuries or death. Surprisingly, dressers and other furniture (with the exception of cribs) do not currently have to meet any federal safety standards or mandatory standards for stability. In fact, manufacturers govern themselves and are not even required to do so by law. To make matters worse, current voluntary tests are inadequate because they don’t replicate the force a toddler can exert by pulling down on an open drawer as they climb.
In the face of all this, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) will introduce the STURDY Act (the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act) this week. The act would require the CPSC to test furniture such as dressers more broadly and develop a mandatory safety standard for all manufacturers. The CPSC has also launched a campaign called “Anchor It!” which provides consumers with information about the dangers of falling or tipping furniture, including dressers and TVs. The site also features resources to help parents secure these items while removing toys or other objects that may attract a toddler’s attention, prompting them to climb.
Ideally the efforts of the CPSC will arm parents and all consumers with information about whether a piece of furniture is safe before they buy it. As awareness increases, parents will hopefully be anchoring their dressers and TVs at the same time that they secure their kitchen cabinets and staircases.
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