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Toppling dressers remain threat to young children

Expectant parents delight in decorating their babies' rooms with brightly-colored motifs and murals designed to stimulate their infants' burgeoning senses.

But are parents paying as much attention to safety concerns as they are to aesthetics? Some signs suggest they aren't, and neither are the manufacturers of some furniture items.

Tipping dressers major safety concern

Consumer Reports released results from a recent study indicating that injuries to babies and children from furniture that tips over onto them are still increasing.

Data from 2016 shows that 2,800 children here in America suffered injuries caused by furniture that tipped over on them, which is a 33 percent increase from the prior year. Researchers hypothesize that this might stem from manufacturers' failure to design and build furniture with safety in mind.

The furniture item that's most likely to cause injuries or deaths to youngsters 5 and under is a dresser. For one, they're typically sequestered in bedrooms, the room in the home where kids are most frequently alone.

Kids are left alone at naptime, but all parents know that children who are supposed to be sleeping not always are. But if they are scaling the open drawers of their dressers like mountain goats, it's less likely that an adult will see them in time to avert a tragic accident. The problem is compounded when heavy objects like TVs are placed on top of kids' dressers.

Consumer Reports' chief scientific officer stated that "[o]ver 80 percent of all the furniture tip-over injuries and deaths are [to] children under the age of 6. They are the most vulnerable people."

Given that, the fact that there are only voluntary safety standards for dresser manufacturers seems quite shortsighted. Retail outlets also aren't mandated to label these potentially lethal furniture items as such to their customers.

Under the current industry standards, dressers should remain upright when 50 pounds of weight is put on open drawers. But if that weight limit were increased by another 10 pounds, it would include the average weight of kids 5 and under in the United States.

Parents can reduce the risk of dressers tipping over onto their children by anchoring them securely to the walls and not placing TVs and other heavy items on top of them.

If your child was harmed by a falling dresser, you may need to file a claim for damages to recover any financial or other losses.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Tipping furniture injures more kids than ever, Consumer Reports says," April 06, 2018

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