What's killing our kids these days? It isn't IKEA furniture

deathtrap drawers
Screen capture Deathtrap drawers typical headline

To read Fox News' headline Ikea’s ‘deathtrap drawers’ get a fix after killing two kids or Ikea recalls 27 million chests, dressers after two deaths, one would think the things were leaping out at children and had to be restrained, or that there was some fundamental design flaw that caused IKEA dressers to fall over in disproportionate numbers. It is true that two children were crushed by falling MALMs in 2014. In fact, tipovers of furniture and televisions happen all the time; in 2011, 49 children were killed, and 38,000 were taken to hospital.

But IKEA is big, selling, as noted, 27 million of the things. So they are telling people to use the wall anchoring kits that are supplied with each dresser to fasten them to the walls, and are offering new kits to those who just tossed them out. It's officially known as a recall but it's really a warning- kids climb on things and they fall over.

Over at Core77, Rain Noe complains:

The deaths of two children in one year is a terrible thing, but this is not an epidemic. CNN crunched the numbers in a Consumer Product Safety Commission report [PDF] on furniture-based injuries and found that "a child dies every two weeks from furniture or TVs tipping over," and even that is hard to call an epidemic; because according to the CDC, two children die every day from accidental drowning. That should be the cause of more concern, if making a numerical difference is the goal; the drowning deaths outnumber the deaths from falling furniture—including falling TVs—by a factor of 14.

I would add that in 2010 car accidents killed 444 children aged 1 through 4 and homicides killed 367, but this gets very little press and nobody seems to be recalling cars or guns for killing kids. 17 children died from whooping cough in 2012 because their parents were anti-vaxxers, who definitely should be recalled.

© IKEA UK

Lighter, taller, shallower than they used to be.

Rain Noe doesn't think it's the designer's or the manufacturer's fault; they both acknowledge the fact that these can topple if someone climbs them and supply the wall anchoring kits. However it is true that a six drawer dresser is taller than dressers used to be, and that the IKEA stuff is a lot lighter. Grandma's dresser was probably only four drawers, was probably deeper and weighed a ton. Designs have changed over the years as people have less space, more stuff and like the cheap IKEA prices. But it is not like IKEA ignored this. It's the parents, who didn't install the kits, that bear much of the responsibility here.

I am not usually a fan of IKEA, and having bought a MALM for my daughter, do not recommend them; they really are flimsy. But the company is being maligned in these ridiculous headlines. If you buy something tall and thin and climbable, whether it is a bookcase or a chest of drawers, it should be anchored. Period.

Meanwhile, I have a confession to make; after I bought my daughter a MALM I didn't anchor it. However she was a teenager by then and a) wasn't going to go climbing on it and b) wouldn't have been crushed. But I still should have, because earthquakes and visitors. What about you?


Tags: Flat Pack

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