About one child dies every 10 days from tip-over accidents. Ikea hopes to prevent that with its new dressers.

By Anna Halkidis
June 07, 2019
IKEA new furniture
Credit: IKEA

June 7, 2019

With the heightened concern for tip-over accidents, Swedish furniture company Ikea announced the launch of new dressers aiming to prevent future injuries and deaths. The Glesvär dressers “will have stability features" to encourage parents to anchor furniture to the wall, the company said in a statement this week.

The new line features three new designs, but the only one that will be available in the U.S. come this December will feature an interlock function. That means only one drawer can open at a time (think a filing cabinet system) until the dresser is secured to a wall. The second model will require the piece to be attached to a wall before any of the drawers can open, and the third is a two-legged chest of drawers that can only stand upright when secured to a wall.

“We believe that the safest way to prevent tip-over incidents is to attach furniture to the wall, per our assembly instructions," says Vladimir Brajkovic, head of range and product engineering at Ikea Range & Supply. "With the interlock function, we hope to further encourage wall attachment and decrease the risk of furniture tip-over."

The interlock function is a good idea, says Kimberlee Mitchell, a mom, injury prevention advocate, and founder of Boo Boo Busters Professional Childproofing Services. "It helps decrease front heaviness, which is what makes it topple over," she says. 

About 15,600 emergency department-treated injuries each year are due to tip-over accidents involving furniture or televisions, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. One child dies every 10 days in one of these accidents, and more than 90 percent of tip-over fatalities happen at home.

But experts insist they are preventable if parents make sure to secure every piece of heavy furniture they bring into their home. "Some new dressers come with anchoring kits or you can buy a furniture anchor kit at the hardware store," says Mitchell. Yet, a Consumer Reports survey in 2018 found only about a quarter of Americans are anchoring their furniture. 

The next step: Make sure to separately anchor any heavy items you may place on top of the furniture, especially televisions, says Tammy Franks, home and community program manager for the National Safety Council.

And keep in mind kids love to climb—another reason tip-over accidents occur. "Despite our best efforts, kids are curious," adds Franks. "Be cautious what you set on top of the dresser so that you are eliminating that temptation for them to climb up there and reach items."

Experts also suggest parents store heavier items on lower shelves or drawers, and always follow manufacturers directions. 

Ikea's new designs come three years after the company recalled about 29 million chest and dressers in the U.S. following the death of six children from tip-over incidents. The next year, in 2017, Ikea announced the recall again after two more children deaths were reported.

A 2-year-old named Conner also died in 2017 when an Ikea dresser, which wasn't on the recall list, fell on him. His mother, Meghan DeLong, is now suing the entire furniture industry.

"AHFA has actively and blatantly sought to utilize its known, arbitrary, and inadequate voluntary standards as both a sword and a shield to conceal the unreasonably hazardous nature of millions of dressers and units designed and manufactured by the furniture industry,” the lawsuit says, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. To pass the AHFA stability test, an empty piece of furniture “must not tip when one drawer is open and a 50-pound weight is gradually applied to the front edge of the open drawer.” The 50 pounds is equal to the weight of an average 5-year-old. But Connor weighed 30 pounds, the news report says.

In each recall, Ikea said the chests and drawers are "unstable" unless they are anchored to the wall. And experts say parents should try and get that done ASAP.

“Make certain that you do anchor furniture when it first comes to the home rather than thinking that you’ll get to it later and then it’s forgotten," urges Franks. “It’s so easy to prevent the furniture tip-overs.”