There have been hundreds of deaths from furniture tip-overs in the past two decades, according to federal safety regulators. Most fatal tip-overs involve children.
The STURDY Act, which stands for Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth was signed into law in December of 2022 and went into effect on September 1st.
It requires furniture makers to meet certain guidelines for testing, manufacturing and labeling their products.
The new law applies to items like dressers, chests and other clothing storage.
Dr. Nick Watkins who works in the Emergency Department at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital says while he hasn’t seen any major injuries related to tip-overs recently, it can be extremely dangerous
“I think a lot of people don’t understand that furniture tip-overs are really quite common, especially in kids younger than seven years of age, and thankfully most of the time we’re talking about minor injuries but there have been hundreds of deaths due to these furniture tip-overs,” said Watkins.
In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, roughly 5,300 people end up in the ER every year because of tip-overs and sadly, nearly 200 children have died because of tip-overs in the last 22 years.
Watkins and safety advocates say the new law can help toward prevention, but it won’t solve all the problems.
The law only applies to furniture made after September 1st of this year, which means old furniture can still be sold online and in stores.
“I think guidelines are a step in the right direction, but they don’t apply to all furniture so it’s important to realize that and you still have to take precautions in your own home. So things you can think about are anchoring your furniture to the walls and securing them appropriately. The new standards apply mostly to dressers and chest of drawers and things of that nature and they have to be a certain height or weight, so they’re a step in the right direction, but not the end all be all,” added Watkins.
Advocates say parents should keep in mind that furniture like bookcases, televisions and tables aren’t included in the new law.
Dr. Watkins also offered another piece of advice for families.
“We have to remember to ask everyone that our kid could go visit, that’s grandmothers, and it’s cousins, and it’s daycares and schools, if they’re using the most up-to-date standards– asking about anchors, asking about the furniture that they have.”
Consumer advocates also say when people are shopping for furniture, they should ask the retailer or manufacturer when the furniture was made and if it’s compliant with the new STURDY Act.