The three children, Theodore McGee, Camden Ellis and Curren Collas, were all close in age — between 22 months and 2 years old. They were all boys who died within a span of two years. The cause, in each case, was the same: a tragic accident involving tipped-over Ikea furniture.
In the wake of the tragedies, Ikea, the largest furniture retailer in the world, made the first in a series of attempts to correct the problem. Ikea has issued a recall for at least 29 million chests and dressers that can easily tip over onto children, injuring or killing them. After the three death mentioned above, the furniture giant said it is no longer selling its “Malm” series products because they “could be a danger,” Ikea USA president Lars Peterson told NBC News. He added that customers are eligible for a free repair kit to anchor the furniture to a wall. Refunds will also be offered. The announcement comes after an anchor campaign last year — and amid staggering statistics: every 24 minutes, a child is sent to the emergency room by a falling piece of furniture or a television, according the federal government’s watchdog agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Every two weeks, a child dies.
In a statement to NBC News, Ikea said it issued the recall despite the anchor campaign, which resulted in the company sending out 300,000 kits. “It is clear that there are still unsecured products in customers’ homes,” the statement says. “We believe that taking further action is the right thing to do.”
Alan Feldman, an attorney who represents the families of all three toddlers, said in a statement: “We applaud the CPSC for taking a tough stand in support of consumer product safety by demanding that IKEA take concrete action to get these defective dressers off the market, or at least to make sure that whenever possible, the dressers are secured to a wall. It should not have taken repeated injuries and deaths over many years before IKEA finally responded to the potential hazard it placed in millions of American homes.”
In addition to the three deaths between 2014 and 2016, Ikea also said it knew of 14 other cases of Malm dressers tipping over, four of which resulted in injury. Different brands of Ikea chests, reported the Associated Press, had been implicated in three other deaths going back to 1989.
CPSC has tips to prevent a tip-over tragedy:
USE STURDY FURNITURE
Televisions should only be placed on furniture designed to hold a television, such as television stands or media centers.
SECURE YOUR TV
Televisions that are not wall mounted should still be anchored to the wall.
MOUNT FLAT-SCREEN TVS
Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall or to furniture to prevent them from toppling over.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to secure TVs and furniture properly.
LOW AND STABLE – CRT TV
CRT televisions should only be placed on furniture designed to hold a television, and should be anchored to the wall or the TV stand.
SECURE TOP-HEAVY FURNITURE
Existing furniture can be anchored with inexpensive anti-tip brackets. New furniture, such as dressers, are sold with anti-tip devices. Install them right away.
REMOVE TEMPTING OBJECTS
Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and furniture.