How Many Children Are Injured by Toppling Furniture?

Unfortunately, home isn’t always a safe place for children. Many children don’t understand the potential dangers at home, one of which is furniture toppling over on them. How many children are injured by toppling furniture? More than you might expect. Tip-over injuries happen when a child climbs on a piece of furniture or an appliance and it tips on top of them. A study published in the Injury Epidemiology Journal showed that children under 18 years of age suffered from tip-over accidents, with more injuries and deaths happening in children younger than six.

The study used product codes for each case to determine the type of product that caused the injury and whether it was furniture or a television. The study defined clothing storage units (CSUs) as pieces of furniture with drawers and/or hinged doors, such as dressers, trunks, bureaus, portable closets, wardrobes, armoires and clothing racks. Other types of furniture that could cause injury or death include nightstands, desks, entertainment centers, tables, china cases, cabinets, hutches, and bookshelves.

Anything that is not deep enough and is tall could tip. Even wider furniture, if it has drawers or shelves that a child could climb, could tip over.

How Many Children Are Injured by Falling Furniture?

According to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a child receives emergency treatment for injuries caused by falling furniture and televisions once every 46 minutes. The study covered 30 years and found that 560,203 children aged 18 and under received emergency treatment for tip-over injuries. Of those, 11,521 incidents happened in 2019. The study also found that 70 percent of the injuries happened to children under six years of age.

One technological development in TVs has been helpful. The rate of injuries from television tip-overs declined as flatscreen TVs became more common in homes. The study found that tip-over injuries increased from 1990 through 2010 and decreased by 56.8 percent from 2010 through 2019.

How Many Children Are Killed by Falling Furniture?

In addition to the injuries from tip-over injuries, many children died because of falling furniture and televisions. According to Anchor It!, the Consumer Product Safety Commission awareness campaign, the risk of being killed by falling furniture is greatest for the youngest children. Ninety-one percent of tip-over fatalities happen in the child’s home, and over 75 percent of tip-over fatalities happen in children under six years of age. Of the tip-over fatalities that happen in the home, 50 percent occur in a bedroom. Most of the tip-over accidents also resulted in head injuries, which caused the death or significant injury to the child.

In 2016, IKEA recalled certain furniture after a fourth child died because a MALM dresser tipped over on the child. The recall found that certain furniture would tip if not properly anchored. The company gave consumers an option of receiving a free anchoring kit or a refund on the furniture.

IKEA knew of two incidents before it announced a repair program for the furniture, including the deaths of a two-year-old boy and a 23-month-old boy. In both cases, a MALM chest tipped over on the children.

After the company announced the availability of the repair kit, it learned of two additional fatalities – a two-year-old boy who died as a result of an unanchored MALM three-drawer chest and a 22-month old who died as a result of a six-drawer chest falling on him.

Because almost half of the tip-over injuries happen in the head and neck area, the injuries are often significant or fatal. The study by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital spanning 30 years found that of all incidents of children being harmed by toppling furniture 575 incidents were fatal.

Furniture Tip-Over Accidents

Any furniture that is large or top heavy — and especially if it’s tall — has a higher risk of tipping. Tall dressers and bookshelves already have a higher risk of tipping, but when you place a television or something else heavy on top of it, the risk of tipping when a child climbs on it is much higher.

Even when you are in the same room, keeping an eagle eye on your child, you won’t be able to reach your child faster than a piece of furniture, appliance or television can fall. The only safe way is to anchor the item or remove it from any room your child has access to.

How Do You Keep Furniture from Tipping?

Keeping furniture from tipping over prevents a significant number of injuries and deaths. If your furniture or appliances did not come with tip-over prevention hardware, you should purchase and install it or move the furniture to a room your child cannot access. Even with the decline in injuries and deaths caused by tipping furniture, parents and furniture manufacturers need to do more to prevent these injuries.

Using Anchors to Keep Furniture from Tipping

Manufacturers can provide anchors for furniture, televisions and appliances that are likely to tip if a child climbs on them or somehow pulls something on top of furniture down upon themselves. Parents and installers should always install anchors to any type of furniture or appliance that a child can climb. They should also anchor the television to a wall at the base of the entertainment center or television cart to keep the TV from falling off the piece of furniture. Statistics show that 75 percent of child fatalities involved a television, whether it was a combination of a TV and furniture or the television alone.

As this video shows, it takes five minutes to install anchors for furniture or a television.

Anchors feature two U-shaped brackets. Screw one into the wall and the other onto the piece of furniture or appliance. Attach the anchor wire to both pieces, then push the furniture or appliance against the wall.

If you cannot anchor something to the wall because of restrictions in an apartment or because your walls do not support anchoring, remove the piece of furniture. Instead of anchoring televisions to walls, you can anchor to the rear of the entertainment center or dresser as long as the furniture is anchored or is deep enough that it will not tip.

Where to Get Help if Your Child Is Injured by Toppling Furniture

If your child suffered injuries or died because of furniture tipping over caused by a furniture defect, our product injury attorney at Kaplan Lawyers can help. We understand you need to focus on your child and family after such a serious injury or tragic death. Let us handle all of the legal issues related to your case. Contact us for a free case evaluation by calling (516) 399-2364.

Archives