Potential furniture hazards

The occurrence of furniture tip over injuries has increased as the size of furniture and appliances has increased. Tip-over casualties most frequently occur when children climb onto, fall against or pull themselves up on television stands, shelves, bookcases, dressers, desks and chests. In some cases, televisions placed on top of furniture fall and cause a child to suffer traumatic injuries.

Common industry standards require that TV stands, chests, bureaus and dressers pass a stability test. If a piece of furniture violates these standards, the product can be subject to a safety recall. But this only provides limited protection. Where the TV or furniture is placed and how it is used is beyond the manufacturer control. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission and Health Canada there are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take to help prevent injury.

To better help prevent tip-over hazards, consider the following safety tips:

  • Do not place TVs on dressers. They are not designed to hold them. Place televisions far back on low, stable furniture that is designed to hold the weight and size of the television. Attach the television to a stand if possible.
  • Keep electrical cords behind furniture where children cannot reach them.
  • Do not place items that may appeal to children – such as toys, plants and remote controls – on top of TVs or tall furniture.
  • Choose storage furniture (bookcases, cabinets, television stands and dressers) with wide and stable bases that sit directly on the floor. Models with legs or wheels are more likely to tip over.
  • Attach furniture to the wall using angle braces, anchors or safety straps. If these items come with the product, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. Secure the anchors directly to wall studs if possible.
  • Open only one drawer at a time and close all drawers when not in use.
  • Place heavier items – like books – on lower shelves or in lower drawers.
  • Children may climb dressers because the drawers can be opened and used as steps. But open drawers make a dresser unstable, increasing the chance of it tipping over. For your children’s safety:
  • Always supervise children in the home and teach them not to climb or hang from furniture.  

Tip-over protection is also needed for most freestanding and slide-in ranges/ovens. This is a simple bracket that is usually installed at the back base of the unit to prevent it from tipping over if weight is applied to an open door. Most manufacturers have supplied the bracket since the 1990s. It can often be observed by removing the bottom drawer, if one is present. If there is any doubt about whether this tip protection is required for your unit or how it should be installed, contact the manufactures. For extra protection when children are present, a child-resistant door lock can be installed.  

Hopefully these tips will help protect you and your family from some of these preventable injuries.

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