MILWAUKEE — New furniture safety requirements recently took effect that will hopefully save a child’s life. For one mother, this measure was 18 years in the making after her daughter was killed by a furniture tip-over. But this mom and experts warn there are still precautions parents need to take.
It was just days before Christmas in 2004 when Kimberly Amato lost her 3-year-old daughter Megan.
“We woke to find Megan lifeless underneath her dresser. We’re not sure exactly what happened, but we believe she had been playing in her room sometime in the very early morning hours, probably climbing on the drawers, and it fell on her,” said Kimberly.
After Megan’s death, Kimberly became an advocate. She spoke to lawmakers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and even started two non-profits, Meghan’s Hope and Parents Against Tip-Overs, to try to get the word out about the dangers of furniture tip-overs and get the laws changed.
“At the time of Meghan’s accident, I really thought she was the only one that this ever happened to. My goal was to prevent it from happening to anyone else, and I thought it was going to be really simple to do. It turned out it wasn’t. It’s taken over 18 years to get where we are today,” said Kimberly.
Where we are today is a new law. It is called the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act known as the STURDY Act. Congress passed it in December of 2022. Early this month, on September 1, 2023, furniture manufacturers and retailers had to start complying with the safety requirements.
Now, clothing storage units like dressers, must meet the stability standards and include kits to anchor the furniture. But it is important to note stores are still allowed to sell furniture manufactured before the law change. That’s why Nancy Cowles, the executive director of the Chicago non-profit Kids in Danger says you should assume all your furniture is a tip-over risk.
“The rule is to anchor everything. Simply because, you know, a child climbing if they get up to the second or third drawer. They’re putting a lot of again that dynamic force on it,” said Cowles.
TMJ4 News went to Village Ace Hardware in Glendale and found furniture anchoring kits sell for around $10.
“It is pretty easy to do,” said David Meinecke, store manager. “I would argue you probably hang up pictures somewhere in your house these would be similar holes to what you are using to hang up pictures of your loved ones.”
At least 234 children have died from furniture tip-overs between 2000 to April 2022, according to the CPSC. On average, 5,300 children a year end up in the emergency room from furniture tip-overs. Something Kimberly hopes the new law will change.
“It now has very stringent tests that address the way children interact with and use dressers, and we think that it would have saved our children, and we believe it will protect yours,” said Kimberly.
Again, the law is only in effect for clothing storage made after September 1. So Kids in Danger says if you are buying new furniture ask the retailer if it meets the new safety requirements (ASTM F2057-23) under the STURDY Act. Also, anchor all furniture, even if it does not come with a kit. You can find more information about how to do it from anchorit.gov.
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