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Child's Death Highlights Furniture Tip-over Danger

Jason Reese

Theodore “Teddy” McGee was just 22 months old when the IKEA dresser in his bedroom tipped over on him and killed him. His mother had gone to check on him during an afternoon nap in his bedroom when she found his bed empty and noticed the dresser tipped onto the floor. Teddy was trapped underneath the 6-drawer chest, the third victim of an IKEA furniture tip-over in the past two years.

Last summer, as a result of multiple child injuries and deaths, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) made 27 million IKEA Malm-style dressers the subjects of a “repair program.” The repair program included a government warning and a directive for consumers to procure a free wall-anchoring kit that IKEA was making available. The need to anchor tall furniture items and the dangers associated with not doing so are certainly not limited to IKEA products. In fact, one child dies every two weeks as a result of a TV, furniture item, or appliance falls on him or her. There are 3 furniture tip-over injuries every single hour.

Furniture Tip-Over Facts

  • 80% of those killed by furniture are between the ages of one and five.
  • 45% of the accidents happened in a bedroom.
  • 70% of tip-over accidents involved a television and/or its related furniture.
  • 34% of victims were climbing on the furniture prior to the accident.
  • In 60% of deaths, the victim was crushed by the falling furniture.
  • Non-fatal injuries include head and brain injuries, neck and back injuries, paralysis, internal organ damage, internal hemorrhages, and broken bones.

Protecting Your Child from Tip-Over Injuries

The CPSC emphasizes that for children, the home is a playground. They see each piece of furniture as a place for jumping, climbing, hiding. It is up to the adults in the home to ensure the safety of the child, most simply by ensuring large furniture is properly anchored. Flat TVs should be wall-mounted; older-style “box” televisions should be placed on sturdy furniture intended for televisions, and they should be anchored to the wall or to the TV stand itself.

With regard to other pieces of furniture that can become top heavy (bookshelves, dressers), it remains critical to anchor these items to the wall immediately upon installation in your home. New furniture should come with anchors as part of their packaging, and inexpensive anti-tip hardware can be purchased for older furniture.

Should IKEA and Other Furniture Production Companies Do More?

That’s exactly what the McGee family attorney believes. Having purchased the offending dresser in 2012, they were unaware of the danger and of the “repair program.” Even if they had known, the McGee’s rental agreement prevented them from putting holes of any kind in their walls. This raises serious questions, not only about the culpability of IKEA, but also of a landlord with such a policy.

If you know of a child who was killed or seriously injured by a furniture tip-over accident, the Indianapolis-based product liability and wrongful death attorneys at Wagner Reese will fight for the compensation the family deserves. Our initial consultations are always free, and we never collect fees from you until your case is settled or won. Call Wagner Reese today at (888) 204-8440.

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