The furniture retailer IKEA has reiterated warnings to the public about the importance of securing and anchoring furniture to walls, after a third child was reportedly been crushed to death by one of its MALM dressers. The problems with the IKEA dresser are leading many consumer advocates to call for the product to be removed from the market due to the potential tip-over risk.
The most recent tragedy of unsecured IKEA furniture tipping over was reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in February, when 22-month-old Theodore “Ted” McGee from Minnesota was killed after one of IKEA’s MALM dressers fell on him, pinning and crushing the young child and causing fatal injuries. According to the CPSC, this is the third death of a young child reported over the last three years as a result of IKEA furniture tip over accidents.
According to lawyers for the McGee family, prior to the injury, Theodore’s mother put the child down for a nap and checked in on him periodically. The McGee family indicates they did not hear the dresser fall, and when the mother went to check on the 22-month-old, she found him pinned and crushed to death under the fallen IKEA dresser. It was not secured to the wall or anchored into the floor.
The first death linked to an IKEA MALM furniture piece was reported in February 2014, when a two-year-old from Pennsylvania was killed after a chest fell on him, and the second fatality was reported just three months later, when a 23-month-old from Washington was killed when the family’s un-anchored three drawer dresser tipped over on the child.
Following the first two reported fatalities, the CPSC announced IKEA would be issuing a furniture recall repair program in July 2015, impacting an estimated 27 million chests and dressers that could pose a tip-over hazard to children if not properly anchored to the floor or secured to the wall. The recall repair program allowed consumers to either order or come to the store to pick up a free wall anchoring kit to help prevent tip-over incidents.
In addition to the free wall anchoring remedy, IKEA also launched additional safety warning programs and policies such as launching the “Secure It” campaign which sought to educate consumers of the potential risks of unanchored furniture tipping over and injuring children.
IKEA spokeswoman Mona Liss, said in a statement following the most recent death that IKEA immediately reported the incident to the CPSC and opened a joint investigation which has determined “that the product was not attached to the wall, which is an integral part of the product’s assembly instructions.” Liss said IKEA was greatly sorry for the family’s loss, but does not have any plans to recall the furniture itself.
Liss stated the best way to prevent tip-over accidents from the IKEA furniture is to attach the products to the wall with the included restraints and hardware, per the assembly instructions.
Both IKEA and the CPSC are aware of 14 reports of certain MALM brand line furniture pieces tipping over, resulting in at least four injury reports and now three fatalities. The furniture pieces have been called into question for tip-over risks given their potential to be top heavy when the top drawers are opened, making them susceptible to tipping over.
In addition to the stability concerns over the furniture, children are inherently more susceptible to tip-over accidents from climbing and reaching for items at the top of dressers, or television stands, whether it is for a remote, gaming equipment or toys. The CPSC recommends that parents never leave items desirable to children on dressers and other top heavy furniture that would entice the child to try and climb or reach for them.
Thus far, the parents of both previous children killed by IKEA MALM dressers have filed lawsuits against the company, seeking compensation for their losses and to bring awareness to the potential dangers the MALM line of furniture poses to children.
According to CPSC data, furniture and TV tip-over accidents have caused 430 deaths over the last 13 years and account for roughly 38,000 emergency rooms visits annually. As part of recent efforts to raise awareness about the risk of furniture tip over accidents, the commission indicated that at least one child dies every two weeks and another child is injured every 24 minutes in the U.S. from heavy furniture or televisions tipping over.