Guard Against Furniture Tip-Over


Thousands of children visit emergency rooms each year with injuries received from climbing on or pulling over furniture.

Despite warnings about furniture tip-over hazards from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of these injuries has increased since 1990.

"Parents and caregivers need to be aware that these accidents tend to happen quickly — usually while a child is left briefly alone in a room," notes American Home Furnishings Alliance Vice President Bill Perdue, who recently helped update a voluntary furniture tip-over safety standard for manufacturers.

The revised standard, issued by ASTM International, applies to dressers, chests, armoires or other clothing storage units taller than 30 inches — the pieces most often involved in climbing/tip-over accidents.

To meet the standard, pieces must not tip even when all drawers are open two-thirds of the way. They also must not tip when one drawer is open and a 50-pound weight is placed in the open drawer. The revised standard also requires manufacturers to include a "tip restraint" with all pieces covered by the standard.

"Tip restraints attach the piece of furniture to an interior wall, the wall framing, or other support to help prevent the piece from tipping over," Mr. Perdue explains. Consumers should closely follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the tip restraints. "If not installed correctly, tip restraints can and will fail," says Mr. Perdue.

New furnishings that comply with the standard also will carry a permanent warning label. To help prevent tip-over, the warning label advises product owners not to open more than one drawer at a time, not to allow children to climb on drawers and not to place televisions (or other heavy objects) on the top of products with drawers or shelves, unless the product is a “media chest” specifically designed by the manufacturer to hold a television. Most tip-over accidents occur when televisions slide off tipped furniture.

For furniture already in your home, you can purchase furniture tip-restraints in the children’s safety section of your local hardware, home improvement or baby specialty store. These restraints can be installed for any piece of furniture that a parent suspects could tip over if a child climbed on it or pulled it. For a FREE sample furniture tip-over safety bracket, simply email your request (with shipping address) to