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Dresser-drawers and toddlers: A dangerous combination

A recent recall of millions of popular dressers sold by Ikea highlights the ever-present danger of dresser-drawers. Late last year, the largest furniture store in the world settled a lawsuit with the families of three toddlers who were fatally injured when Malm dressers tipped over on them.

While no amount of money can ever bring back their young children, the $50 million settlement serves as a warning to other companies who fail to warn of the potential dangers of their furniture. The publicity of the wrongful death lawsuits also helps parents realize what they can do to make their homes safer for their children.

How to help avoid furniture-tipping dangers

It's important to know that if anything that looks remotely climbable to a child, he or she will try to climb it. This is especially true of bedroom furniture, because kids often play in their own rooms unsupervised. It only takes a moment for a child to climb into a bottom drawer of a dresser or onto a shelving system, causing it to tip.

Your best bet for making your child's dresser, changing table or bookcase as safe as possible is to secure it to a wall. Most modern children's bedroom furniture comes with anti-tipping brackets on the back. Follow the instructions for attaching the dresser bracket to studs in the wall.

If you have an older dresser, look for an anti-tipping kit online. You'll just need to take the extra step of attaching the kit's bracket to the dresser before securing the dresser to the wall.

Don't put heavy items on furniture that may tip. It's better to secure televisions, large books, boxes and other heavy items high up on a wall, in a closet or on a designated shelf that children can't reach.

Put childproof latches on dresser drawers. When children are small, they're tempted to pull out drawers and climb them like stairs. Even if the dressers are secured to the wall, children can still fall from the height of several feet after slipping from a drawer.

Public awareness after tragedy

The wrongful death suit brought against Ikea on behalf of the three families who each lost a toddler to a dresser-tipping disaster has brought the dangers of unsecured dressers, bookcases and other heavy pieces of upright furniture to the public attention. In addition to the $50 million, Ikea also agreed to donate additional funds to children's hospitals and to a safety education foundation.

If you have suffered a loss due to the negligence of another, a lawsuit can help you pay your medical bills as well as help prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.

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