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Furniture tip-overs are declining but still injure thousands in the U.S. each year

Elliot Kaye (left), then chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, watches a demonstration of how an Ikea dresser can tip and fall on a child during a news conference at the National Press Club in 2016.
Carolyn Kaster
/
AP
Elliot Kaye (left), then chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, watches a demonstration of how an Ikea dresser can tip and fall on a child during a news conference at the National Press Club in 2016.

An estimated 18,000 Americans — nearly half of whom were children — went to emergency rooms across the U.S. in 2020 for injuries sustained when furniture, a TV or another appliance tipped over and hurt them.

A report released Thursday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission also found that there have been 581 tip-over fatalities in the U.S. since 2000. Four in five of the deaths were kids.

Although the data shows an overall decline in "product instability" injuries and deaths recently, each year thousands of people are still treated for injuries and some die from what authorities say are preventable accidents.

"We're pleased to see the decrease in tip-over injuries over time. However, annually, thousands of children are still injured, and far too many die due to this hazard," Commission Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement. "People either don't know about the risks, or they think it can't happen when an adult is nearby."

Unsecured furniture and other household items have long been known to pose a danger to users if they tip over. According to the commission, furniture with an unstable design or furniture that's located on an unstable surface like carpet or a sloping floor are at risk of toppling. Children are especially vulnerable to tip-over incidents.

Last year the Swedish furniture giant Ikea paid $46 million to the California family of a 2-year-old boy who died after one of the company's dressers fell on top of him.

Federal legislation dubbed the STURDY Act would direct the commission to develop a mandatory national stability standard for clothing storage units. It passed the House of Representatives in June and has also been introduced in the Senate.

According to Hoehn-Saric, most anti-tip-over kits that let you secure furniture and other items to a wall cost less than $20 and can be installed in less than 20 minutes.

The commission launched its Anchor It! campaign in 2015 to communicate the importance of anchoring furniture and other items to the wall and explaining how to do it.

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