IKEA issues repair kit for chests following deaths of two children

IKEA is warning consumers not to use 27 million of its chests and dressers without repairs after two children died from toppling furniture, including a West Chester toddler.

The Swedish ready-to-assemble furniture chain is now providing free wall anchoring kits to customers in-store and online or by phone.

Tracey Kelly, the corporate communications manager for IKEA US, said the company has provided tip-over restraints with its furniture since the 1990s, but recognizes that parents do not always install them.

“As a convenience to customers, we have added a screw and a wall anchor to the kit,” she said. “We do this so that there’s no reason why the customer won’t make that extra step of actually screwing the hardware into the wall.”

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In the past, Kelly said restraints did not come with a screw because different wall materials might call for a variety of fasteners. Parents do not need to replace existing anchoring devices as long as the furniture is held firmly in place. The repair kit also includes a label to remind owners of the need to anchor.

“The benefit of that label is that if you were to give the product to someone else, or say, put it on Craigslist, that important warning would go with the chest of drawers,” said Kelly.

In February of 2014, an IKEA MALM dresser tipped over, pinning two-year-old Curren Collas of West Chester against his bed, killing him. Four months later, another boy from Washington state died from an overturning MALM unit. Neither chest was attached to the wall.

Scott Wolfson of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which helped issue the repair notice with IKEA, said the kit is an important step. But the furniture itself should also be safer.

“There needs to be a renewed commitment by the furniture industry to keep striving to make the most stable furniture possible,” he said.

Every 24 minutes in the U.S., he noted, a kid is sent to the ER from a falling television, appliance, or piece of furniture. And every two weeks, a child dies.

“If a consumer lives in a location where they cannot install a kit or they choose not to, we are actually saying they should stop using that chest and dresser,” said Wolfson. “Do not use it if you have children in your house and you’re not able to do an anchoring.”

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