How Many Children Are Injured by Toppling Furniture?

May 25, 2022 Product Liability

Parents of children of all ages do their best to create a safe, comfortable home for their children. As children grow up, they better understand the dangers of the world around them and can handle more responsibility for their safety. However, for young, curious children, home can include many unexpected dangers that pose a significant risk to their safety.

Furniture, televisions, and other appliances can cause children harm, particularly by tipping over. Tip-over injuries occur when a piece of furniture loses balance due to added pressure or weight and can result in crushing, entrapping, suffocating, or killing a child. Parents need to understand the risk of tipping furniture and televisions and the ways they can prevent such injuries (or even fatalities) from occurring.

The Cause of Tip-Over Injuries

Children experience curiosity from the moment they are born. The world holds so many wonders and discoveries for children, whose experience is constantly expanding. While a strong sense of curiosity and desire to learn are developmentally appropriate, parents need to create a safe environment for their children to explore.

Furniture, appliances, and televisions represent a serious hazard to children, particularly under the age of 6. Furniture can topple over when children…

  • Use shelves, drawers, or surfaces to pull themselves up
  • Try to climb onto furniture
  • Attempt to reach for an item on top of furniture.

The extra weight can unbalance heavy, large furniture by shifting its center of gravity. This means that anything on top of the furniture can also tip over and fall on top of a child.

The following video, produced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), demonstrates just how a piece of furniture could fall on a child. Using standard bedroom furniture and a doll, the CPSC manages to capture an effective dramatization of tipping-over incidents.

How Many Children Are Injured by Falling Furniture?

Both the journal Injury Epidemiology and the Washington Post have reported on the issue of how many children result injured by falling furniture. A study published in Injury Epidemiology estimated that 560,203 children under 18 years old were treated in United States emergency departments for furniture or television tip-over injuries. The study used data collected over a 30-year period, from 1990 to 2019, from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

The annual average number of children treated by emergency departments over this period was 18,673. Children under the age of six seemed to experience the greatest threat to their safety. This demographic accounted for over half (67%) of the total amount of furniture and television tip-over injuries.

According to an article published in the Washington Post, the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital also conducted a study about tip-over injuries. The study reported that every 46 minutes, a child is treated in an emergency room for serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries from fallen furniture, including televisions. The children use bookshelves, chests of drawers, or wardrobes to pull themselves up or climb.

How Many Children Are Killed by Falling Furniture?

Children can suffer any number of injuries caused by falling furniture. Some of these incidents may result in minor injuries, but with nearly half of the reported injuries occurring to the head or neck, these incidents can also be fatal. The CPSC reported a total of 571 tip-over-related fatalities from 2000 to 2019. These deaths often feel senseless, as any piece of furniture could fall, and a parent taking their eyes off their children could result in tragedy.

The Case of IKEA’s MALM

Even popular, trusted companies can produce furniture that does not match an appropriate safety standard. For example, in 2016, IKEA addressed its consumers and asked them to stop using IKEA’s recalled chests or dressers without taking the proper precautions. IKEA recalled 29 million MALM and other models of chests and drawers after the furniture’s tip-over hazard resulted in four fatalities of children around the age of 2 years old.

  • In September 2011, a 2-year-old boy in Virginia died after an unanchored MALM drawer trapped the child between the dresser drawers.
  • In February 2014, a 2-year-old boy in Pennsylvania died after a 6-drawer MALM chest fell and fatally pinned him against his bed.
  • In June 2014, a 23-month-old boy in Washington State died trapped under a 3-drawer MALM chest.
  • In February 2016, a 22-month-old boy from Minnesota died when a MALM chest fell on top of him.

Following the recall, the company offered customers who had bought the chests or dressers a refund or a wall-anchoring repair kit. Customers had the option to anchor the furniture themselves after receiving their kit or requesting a one-time, free in-home installation service from IKEA. This did not forgive the lacking safety standard of the chests and dressers.

Furniture Tip-Over Accidents

The study in Injury Epidemiology also detailed the types of furniture that caused the different tip-over accidents. Out of the 560,203 children under 18 years old who were treated, clothing storage units (CSUs) were involved in 17% of cases. Additionally, the CPSC reported that CSUs accounted for approximately 2,800 injuries among children under 6 years old in 2016.

Televisions played a significantly larger role in the study’s reported injuries. Over the 30-year period, tipped-over televisions accounted for 41% of the injuries. According to the CPSC, U.S. emergency departments treated an annual average of 6,200 children under the age of 5 for TV tip-over injuries from 1990 to 2011.

The collected data shows the serious extent to which parents must learn how to protect their children from falling furniture and appliances.

How Do You Keep Furniture from Tipping?

Companies need to have higher standards for manufacturing furniture to prevent tip-over hazards. Buying a piece of furniture or a new television should not result in life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, you can only control what you do to make your home as safe as possible for your children.

Once you understand the risk that furniture, television, and other appliances pose to your children, you need to find ways to keep your furniture from tipping. Children under the age of six are particularly at risk, so if you have elementary school students, toddlers, or babies in your home, you need to prepare.

Ways to Keep Your Children Safe

As you continue to make your home a safer place for children, you should consider the following prevention strategies in order to decrease the likelihood of danger and injury. Using these practical tips will not only make your home more secure but also give you greater peace of mind. You need to know and feel confident that you are doing your best to keep your child safe from potential harm.

Using Anchors to Keep Furniture from Tipping

When you anchor pieces of furniture, you immediately decrease the chances of your child’s suffering from injuries related to tip-over incidents. Anchoring involves securing part of your furniture or television to the wall. This keeps the piece of furniture balanced even if it experiences increased or disproportionate weight, such as a child climbing on drawers.

You can purchase anti-tip anchoring kits and straps from websites online or in local stores. Asking for advice on the installation process will help you feel more confident that your furniture is secure. Installing requires you to have and use a drill or some basic hardware tools, but the actual process of anchoring a piece of furniture takes a matter of minutes.

Mount Your Television

While the number of television tip-over injuries decreased from 2010 to 2019, the threat of a televisions falling on, crushing, or suffocating a child persists. Safety experts highly recommend that homes with televisions mount them on the wall instead of setting them on top of furniture. Older and newer televisions still weigh a significant amount, making even popular flat-screen televisions a safety concern. To ensure your child does not experience injury from a tipping television, secure the television to your wall.

Remove Temptation

You can also keep your children safe from potentially hazardous furniture tip-over incidents by removing temptation from their line of sight. Because children naturally develop curiosity, they seek to discover more of the world around them to satisfy that curiosity. Items such as TV remotes, toys, knick-knacks, books, and other types of objects attract children’s eyes and spark their curiosity. This may entice them to climb onto furniture to reach the object.

Part of childproofing your home to protect your children may include keeping furniture surfaces clear of tempting objects. Heavy objects that could cause injury or potentially break if tipped over should stay in rooms where your child does not have immediate or easy access. You can also keep drawers closed or locked to dissuade your children from attempting to use them to climb.

Finding Help When You Need It Most

If your child was seriously injured by falling or tipped-over furniture, you need the right expertise and support. At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, you will find a team of litigators and support staff who will handle your case with care. With more than 35 years of personal injury law practice, our firm helps those who have been seriously injured receive the compensation they deserve. If you need help, call Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law in Houston, Texas now at 713-973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000, or contact us through our website for a free consultation today.

Attorney Terry Bryant

Attorney Terry BryantTerry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]

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