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Ikea issues warning after deaths of US children

The Guardian logo The Guardian 7/23/2015 Nadia Khomami
Ikea is offering a free wall-anchoring kit to people who bought the furniture. © Alamy Ikea is offering a free wall-anchoring kit to people who bought the furniture.

Ikea has issued a warning for customers to securely attach their chests of drawers and wardrobes to the wall following the death of two children in the US, who were crushed by falling furniture.

The Swedish furniture company has joined with the US consumer product safety commission to warn that the chests and dressers can pose a tip-over hazard if not securely anchored. It said a two-year-old boy from West Chester, Pennsylvania, died in February 2014 when a six-drawer Malm chest fell on him and pinned him to a bed, and a 23-month-old child from Snohomish, Washington, was killed in June 2014 when a three-drawer Malm chest tipped over and trapped him.

The company is now offering a free wall-anchoring kit to consumers who bought 27m of the furniture items above specific heights, including 7m of the Malm chests. It is also running a safety awareness campaign called “Safer Homes Together – Secure it!” in order to raise awareness of the hazards of furniture tipping over.

Ikea’s Safer Homes Together advertising campaign

The safety commission and Ikea said they had received 14 reports of Malm chests tipping over, resulting in four injuries. Ikea is aware of three other deaths that were reported from other models that tipped over. Those deaths were described as happening since 1989.

They say consumers should not use Ikea children’s chests of drawers and wardrobes taller than 23.5in (60cm) and adult versions taller than 29.5in (75cm) unless they are securely anchored to a wall.

The Malm chests in the repair programme have been sold since 2002, and cost between $80 and $200 in the US and £29 and £100 in the UK. A spokesman for Ikea UK and Ireland said the company was not recalling the drawers, which are already sold with wall mounts and instructions in Europe.

Gerard Bos, Ikea UK and Ireland customer relations manager, said: “Product safety and quality are top priorities for Ikea. Furniture tip over is a serious safety risk in the home, however Ikea chests of drawers and dressers are safe to use when assembled according to the assembly instruction and attached to the wall using the restraints provided in the packaging of these products.

“To clarify, we are not recalling the Malm chest of drawers. Ikea already provides tip-over restraints and instructions with all floor standing units that are purchased, which are required to be fastened to the wall. Warnings about the importance of using the tip-over restraints provided are included in the assembly instructions which give step by step instructions for their use. Information about furniture tip-over restraints is available on the price tag on display units, in Ikea store signage and online.”

The company added that any customer in the UK with concerns about their furniture could contact Ikea on 0203 645 0010 (UK) or 01 5413302 (ROI) to request “a free [wall] restraint kit if the original one was disposed of”.

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