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Furniture tip-over accidents declining, but parents need to be more aware, advocates say

Posted at 11:55 AM, Feb 09, 2023

The Consumer Product Safety Commission released updated data on Thursday indicating that the number of injuries and deaths involving furniture and television tip-overs continues to decline.

The new data indicate that 17,700 injuries required a visit to the emergency room in 2021, down from 18,100 in 2020 and 22,400 the year before. The numbers also indicate the number of such injuries has been cut in half since 2014.

When talking to parents about tip-overs, Kimberly Amato, vice chair of Parents Against Tip-Overs, says using personal stories about past incidents resonates with parents more than the statistics. She conveys to them what she went through in 2004 when her 3-year-old daughter Maggie died in an accident.

Amato said many parents become complacent as they don’t believe it could happen to them until it does. One statistic that stands out to her is that someone in the U.S. goes to the emergency room every 45 minutes due to a tip-over accident.

“Whether it’s a tip-over, cancer, car accident or anything, those things always happen to other people. They don’t happen to us,” Amato said. “So I think it is just human nature, that’s crazy, that is not going to happen to me. Every 45 minutes, someone goes to the emergency room from a tip-over. That’s the most powerful one. But I can tell you from doing this so long, what motivates people the most is hearing the story. It’s not the numbers, it’s being able to relate.”

Her group partnered with the government to launch the Anchor It campaign, encouraging the public to anchor heavy items that could tip over to the wall.

“The report continues to highlight the need for stronger stability standards and the ongoing need for consumers and parents to anchor furniture and TVs in their homes,” Amato said.

One reason for the declining numbers, Amato said, is increased awareness of the issue. Another, she said, is due to most bulkier TVs being replaced with lighter flatscreen panels in recent years. The data back that claim as the number of tip-over incidents involving a television declined from 16,5000 in 2012 to 2,700 in 2021.

Furniture tip-overs, however, have only seen a more modest reduction, going from 22,100 in 2012 to 14,400 in 2021, the CPSC said.

From 2000 through 2021, there were 592 deaths reported involving tip-overs. Until recently, most of the deaths involved a television unit. Nowadays, furniture is the larger concern.

In 2021, all six reported tip-over fatalities involved furniture. In 2020, six of the nine deaths involved furniture, two involved a television and one involved an appliance.

Along with the new data, the CPSC said it encourages the public to anchor televisions and furniture as many Americans gather to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.

“Furniture and TV tip-overs remain a major safety hazard in American households,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “CPSC advanced key regulations last year that will apply to certain furniture. But people can take action in their own homes right now, by purchasing and installing anti-tip-over kits. Most kits cost less than $20 and can be installed in fewer than 20 minutes."

Parents Against Tip-Overs also pushed the federal government to enact the STURDY Act. The bill requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to revise the safety standards for freestanding clothing storage units such as dressers, bureaus, or chests of drawers. These standards must include specified testing related to tip-overs, according to a bill summary.

It is Amato’s expectation that as the STURDY Act is implemented, the number of tip-over injuries will continue to decline. She said even with new standards, however, parents will need to continue practicing vigilance.

“We have been advocating that we need a mandatory safety and stability standard and one that addresses the real reason tip-overs are happening,” Amato said. “Kids open more than one drawer, there are things in the drawer, they’re climbing, they’re reaching, they are stepping drawers so we want a test that measures that.”