Every year thousands of children are hurt when pieces of furniture and tv sets fall over on them. These tip-over incidents have killed young children and devastated families. It's why some of the families impacted are hopeful that congress will pass a new law to improve furniture safety.
These tip over incidents are awful, but they are happening every day in the United States. Parents want congress to pass the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-overs of Unstable Risky Dressers on Youth).
If this bill were to become law it would outline strict regulations for testing of all clothing storage units regardless of height and improve tests to better reflect the way children might interact with furniture in the real world.
News5 spoke with two parents who lost their young children in tip-over tragedies. They say people need to know about these dangers.
"My advocacy started because my beautiful little girl Meghan was found lifeless underneath her dresser the Saturday before Christmas back in 2004," said Kimberly Amato, founder of Meghan's Hope. "I really thought it was a freak accident and I didn't fully understand that furniture tip-over is not only something that happened before, but it had happened many times before."
"My son Charlie was 2 1/2 years old and a dresser that was only 30 inches high tipped over on him and suffocated him and took his life," said Brett Horn, founder of Charlie's House, a safety demo home. "I can be honest with you and tell you that before my son's accident I had no heard of a tip-over. I would imagine many parents through stories like this one. The story you're doing today, tip-over accidents are a little more well known."
According to data from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission from 2000 to 2019:
- 469 children have died in tip over incidents
- Since 2017 11,300 children are hurt every year in these incidents
- 89% of these incidents are impacting children under the age of 5
"We have an assumption that the products that we buy may already be vetted, may already be made safe by the manufacturer and it's our belief that furniture is currently not up to a standard that is sufficient," said Horn.
"It would ensure that there is a mandatory furniture stability and safety standard. So every manufacturer would have to follow this safety standard. It wouldn't be optional any more and that's huge," said Amato.
Patrick McNulty runs Child Safe Childproofing with his wife Andrea. He says it takes less than 10 minutes to strap a piece of furniture to a wall. Any dresser over 2 feet, McNulty recommends using two straps. These seatbelt straps can be found on Amazon.
"You're going to need a hand drill, a drill bit drill a stud finder and a pencil," said McNulty. "This is a strap we most commonly use where its all made of metal and this is the same seatbelt material you would find in your car."
McNulty reminds people to make sure you are mounting your anchor in a wall stud and not drywall because that drywall is not going to be able to hold it.
"Any ER visit you end up paying for is going to be far cheaper to strap all the furniture," said McNulty.
The STURDY Act is now being considered by lawmakers in the United States Congress. If you would like to see Congress pass the sturdy act you are urged to contact our state representatives to let them know it's important to you.
Here is a link that can help you do so: https://act.consumerreports.org/mibjUUj
While we wait to see if lawmakers will act on this issue, securing furniture is the best step we can take to protect our children from tip-overs, but a recent consumer survey found only 27% of people will actually take the steps to anchor their furniture to the wall.