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Federal law creates stability standards for new furniture to help prevent tip-over accidents

The dressers and wardrobes you use at home may be a deadly hazard for your little ones.

Recent federal data shows 472 children have died over the last 20 years when furniture tipped over on them. These accidents also led to more than 22,000 hospital emergency room visits from 2018-2020.

“I held her in the emergency room and rocked her for the last time and promised her that she would be the last child to die this way,” said Kimberly Amato.

Amato’s daughter, Meghan, was just 4 years old when a dresser tipped over and fell on her overnight in 2004. Since then, Amato and other parents with Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT) have been pushing for safety changes.

Now that fight has a bittersweet victory with the passage of the new STURDY Act.

The new law will strengthen furniture testing for real world situations such as when furniture is on carpet or when children climb on or pull on the drawers.

“Furniture should not tip-over under the weight of a such a small child. It can be designed in such a way that it doesn’t,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger.

This year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will set minimum stability standards for new furniture that holds clothing. The new law also requires new warnings for these products too.

“Really the goal is not to have parents have to finish the work of making the product safe, but have it come from the store safe,” said Cowles.

These federal changes only apply to new dressers and wardrobes. Advocates are still encouraging parents to buy anchors and secure their older furniture to the wall to help prevent these accidents.

While this work isn’t over, Amato said it fulfills a promise she made to her daughter.

“We like to envision that all of our children are together in the next place, looking down on us going, that’s my mom, that’s my dad. We’re so proud of them. Look what they’ve done so I hope she would be proud,” said Amato.

Parent groups say they’re also pushing for more regulations for other items that may be recalled because it poses as a safety hazard. They want the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take additional steps to get those recalled products out of homes.

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