One might think that only high, narrow furniture can tip over – not a low, deep chest of drawers filled with heavy things. But, if several drawers are open, the centre of gravity shifts and the chest of drawers tips over.
Unfortunately, both children and adults can be seriously injured, even fatally, if they end up under the weight of a falling chest of drawers. Accidents can also happen because heavy objects on top of a piece of furniture fall down, for example, a TV. The heavier things, the more serious consequences. Experience shows that it’s absolutely safest to secure all furniture that risk tipping over to a wall.
When we develop our furniture, we do everything we can to make them as stable and safe as possible. It affects the choice of materials and the furniture’s construction. But, we haven’t yet figured out how to outsmart the laws of nature. Like the fact that a pulled out drawer works like a lever. Perhaps you remember the principle of leverage from the physics lessons in school? If not, it can be described like this; even a small weight can shift the centre of gravity considerably if the weight is applied to a pulled out drawer (or an open door). It means that a small child that stands, sits or climbs on an open drawer can cause a large chest of drawers to tip over if it’s not secured – despite the child’s low weight.
Children are curious and creative. That’s how they learn new things and discover the world around them. But, it also contributes to children 1-7 years old being more accident-prone.
And the smallest ones, 1-4 years old, are most at risk of serious injuries. That’s why a chest of drawers – no matter model or size – can be a hazard if it isn’t secured to the wall.
There are examples from all over the world where children have pulled out one or several drawers and climbed on them like a ladder, hung on, heaved up on, or climbed into them. But, by always securing your chest of drawers to the wall you can prevent and minimize the risks for children who explore the world.
It isn’t just children who accidentally tip over chests of drawers and risk injuries. Even as adults we sometimes open several drawers at the same time, especially if we’re in a hurry. Another mistake we sometimes make is to put too many or too heavy things in the front of the drawers. In all these cases the centre of gravity shifts outside the base of the furniture and they tip over. An uneven floor, a carpet edge or a thick wall-to-wall carpet can also cause instability and tipping accidents.
Sometimes it can be hard to discover the potential hazards in your own home where everything is familiar. Here we unravel some common myths and misconceptions that explain why not all chests of drawers have been secured to the wall.
No matter how logical this might feel, it’s actually wrong. All furniture can tip over. They become unstable if they have open drawers or doors that work as a lever and move the centre of gravity. The force that’s generated when furniture tip over can be strong and cause very serious accidents – especially if they’re heavy-loaded.
Low furniture can tip too and risk injuring someone. If several drawers are opened at the same time, the centre of gravity moves. And when too much weight is distributed from the centre of a chest of drawers, it tips over. A child that climbs on it, affects the centre of gravity the same way. That’s why you should always follow the assembly instructions that show how to secure your furniture to the wall.
As a parent, it’s hard to keep an eye on your children at all times. Unfortunately, many accidents happen when you lack foresight. Luckily you have good possibilities to minimize the risks if you secure chests of drawers and other furniture to the wall – even in rooms where the children don’t spend much time.
That’s all well. But, latching drawers and doors can’t replace securing the furniture and doesn’t eliminate all risks. A child learning to walk usually likes to heave up against a chest of drawers by pulling a handle, and can thereby make it tip over.
When children play, they sometimes forget what you have told them. Just because they are older doesn’t mean it’s all safe. In addition, many adults, especially elderly, hurt themselves badly, sometimes fatally, in accidents with furniture that tip over.
A piece of furniture from a well-known company with safety awareness, should hopefully live up to standards regarding stability and be able to take daily use without accidents. But, obviously these furniture can tip over too. The force of gravity applies to everything on earth, and when unexpected things happen, the seemingly most stable piece of furniture can tip over.
Most landlords in most parts of the world think it’s OK if you secure your furniture to create a safe home for your children. But, it’s good to talk to your landlord and perhaps explain what risks there are. Feel free to spread some of the knowledge we are sharing here.
More people than one might think are injured every year in accidents with tipping furniture. Between 2006 and 2016 approximately 47,000 children under the age of 18 had to seek medical care in the US because of accidents with tipping chests of drawers (source: Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nov 2017). Holes in the wall are actually quite simple to fix – there’s no reason to risk the family’s safety.
When you buy a chest of drawers from IKEA you should always follow the assembly instructions and secure it with the accompanied fittings. They’re easy to mount, and screws and plugs are included. Just fill the holes with putty when you want to move your chest of drawers, or are moving to another home.
All furniture can tip over, especially if the drawers are opened and the centre of gravity shifts.
Low furniture can tip over too, so always follow the assembly instructions.
It’s hard to keep an eye on your children at all times. Many accidents happen when you lack foresight.
That’s all well. But, it doesn’t replace securing the furniture to the wall.
But, they easily forget. It isn’t all safe just because they are older.
Even the seemingly most stable piece of furniture can tip over.
People are injured in these kinds of accidents every year. There’s no reason to risk the family’s safety.