Furniture tip-overs account for more deaths than you may expect. But what are they, and what can be done if you or someone you love is involved in a furniture tip-over?
What are Furniture Tip-Overs?
Did you know that large furniture can tip over and potentially injure or kill someone if it were to fall on them? Furniture tip-overs are more common than they might seem, and rely mostly on the quality of the furniture.
Sturdy bookshelves and dressers are more likely to stand upright, but if something isn’t made properly or with care, it could tip over and hurt or even kill someone. It seems unlikely that something so heavy like a dresser could really tip over, but it’s possible.
A vast majority of the public doesn’t know about the scary possibility of a falling bookshelf, and therefore many don’t take the necessary precautions when building dressers or bookshelves.
Furniture tip-overs mostly affect children in their rooms. 46% of deaths caused by tip-over accidents happen in bedrooms. It’s estimated that 30,700 injuries are treated each year for injuries related to a furniture tip-over. That can include appliances, televisions, and furniture.
Tip-Overs and Earthquakes
In the state of Florida, we don’t have to deal with earthquakes. However, in many states, like California, there are certain laws that apply to furniture and the anchoring of it. The Earthquake Country Alliance recommends bolting things to the walls, and securing the tops of anything that’s top-heavy and could tip over during an earthquake.
While we don’t have to worry about that in Florida, these tip-overs happen during more than just earthquakes. They can occur at any time if your furniture isn’t stable or secure.
The Truth About Tip-Overs
Tip-overs are dangerous. It may not seem like something you’ll ever have to worry about, until it happens to you. It’s not easy to imagine something like this happening, as it’s hardly ever reported on the news.
However, since 2000, there have been 206 deaths caused by furniture tip-overs. In most of these cases, the victims were under the age of six.
Consumer Reports surveyed 1,502 U.S. adults about their use of anchors to prevent these tip-overs. Out of those 1,502 people, only a quarter of them stated that they have anchored furniture in their homes. That means approximately 75% of people don’t have their furniture anchored, leaving them vulnerable to tip overs.
Why don’t these 75% of people use wall anchors? Wall anchors are notoriously hard to install, and can involve drilling holes into walls. If you don’t really know what you’re doing when you’re putting together furniture, or don’t have access to a power drill, the task can seem very daunting.
This alone prevents people from anchoring their furniture. It’s too hard or too much work, but it could just save a life. It could take an hour or two to install these wall anchors, but it could also save a life.
Every seventeen minutes someone is injured by falling furniture. If we took the time to install these wall anchors, that number could be much lower. But should it rest of the consumer to fix this issue?
Deadly Furniture Tip-Overs: What We Know
Consumer Reports conducted a test on multiple different dressers to see how they compared to one another. In these tests, they tried to tip them over with the drawers open and with just the top drawer open with a 50 pound weight hanging from it.
With most of the dressers, they easily passed the first test with all of their drawers open. However, when it came to adding the 50 pound weight, not as many passed with flying colors. The 50 pound weight is the equivalent of a small child. If they were climbing up the dresser, this could easily cause it to tip over in many circumstances.
Many dressers, even ones costing over 200 dollars, failed this test. However, Ikea’s KULLEN dresser passed and only costs 69 dollars, proving that stable dressers don’t have to break the bank entirely.
This is good news, because 35% of Americans with children under 6 bought their dressers new. That means that 65% of Americans with children under 6 bought a used dresser. This is likely because they don’t have extra money to spend on a brand new dresser. But with cheaper options, like the KULLEN by Ikea, safety could be much cheaper.
How to Prevent Furniture Tip-Overs
As previously stated, furniture tip-overs can be prevented easily. Because children are the leading victims in these accidents, the solution is more than just watching them 24/7. Sure, you could install a camera in your child’s room, but they could wake up from a nap and climb up a dresser without you seeing it.
There are really only two solutions here. One, furniture can be anchored to the wall in a variety of different ways, and two, furniture manufacturers could build their dressers to a higher standard. With the second option, no dresser would be sold that didn’t comply with the law, and no one would have to buy extra supplies to anchor their dressers.
However, that would require further legislation policing these dressers, and while it would be an excellent solution, it doesn’t appear to be in sight. However, Consumer Reports does have a petition for this that you can sign.
Wall Anchors: A Life Saving Solution
Wall anchors are the solution here, one that you can take into your own hands. However, they can be hard to install for people who don’t have much experience in the matter, and come with an extra cost. If someone is looking to buy a cheap dresser, they may not want to spend even more to secure it to the wall.
If you’ve ever built a dresser or bookshelf, or anything, you might notice that they sometimes come with wall anchors. Though they appear to be flimsy, and aren’t exactly promising in terms of safety.
In the Consumer Reports study they found that 54% of people with children under 6 didn’t think wall anchoring was necessary and 47% of people with children under 6 said that their children were never left alone. 41% of all Americans said that the furniture seemed stable.
Wall anchors are the solution and can help decrease the problem of furniture tip-overs when installed correctly. However, people don’t think they’re necessary, don’t think they need to use them, or don’t know how to install them at all.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If you or a family member have been injured in a furniture tip-over accident, Viles & Beckman may be able to help you. Located in the Fort Myers, Florida area, they’re ready to take on your case.
Personal injury refers to damage that you or your loved one may experience as a result of someone else’s negligence. In this case, this could be the negligence of the manufacturer of the furniture, as they didn’t take safety into account when they produced them.
Even true accidents, such as a child climbing up the shelves of a dresser, can constitute negligence. If you or a loved one have been injured in a furniture tip-over accident, you can have your case evaluated for free at Viles & Beckman.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Viles & Beckman LLC who have a combined experience of nearly 60 years: Marcus Viles, Michael Beckman or Maria Alaimo. The information provided in this article comes from years of experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida along with extensive research.