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Consumer Reports: Your New Dresser Could Still Be Prone to Tipping Over; Here is What Parents and Caregivers Should Know

Dressers and other clothing storage furniture manufactured after September 1 will meet a mandatory safety requirement, but furniture made before September 1 will remain for sale 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After September 1, 2023, furniture makers who want to sell in the U.S. must test their dressers and other clothing storage furniture—including chests, armoires, and similar products over a certain size and weight—for stability and provide anchoring kits. For retailers, all new clothing storage furniture they sell made after September 1 must meet these requirements. Learn more from Consumer Reports’ (CR) latest story with a video featuring parent and consumer advocates.

The STURDY Act, passed through Congress in December 2022, required federal regulators to establish a mandatory rule for manufacturing, testing, and labeling clothing storage furniture to help prevent child injuries and deaths caused by furniture tip-overs. According to the CPSC, at least 234 people died from clothing storage furniture tip-overs from 2000 to April 2022, and approximately 5,300 people are sent to the emergency department every year. 

However, there is one major caveat: Furniture made before September can still be sold in stores and online, even if it does not comply with the new standard.

Gabe Knight, a policy analyst at Consumer Reports, says: “This safety standard will prevent injuries and save lives by ensuring that furniture is built to resist tipping over; however, parents and caregivers should remain vigilant because non-compliant furniture remains in homes and will still be sold. Devastatingly, we continue to hear of fatal tip-over incidents, including the deaths of three young children since May. To help prevent more tragedies, CR calls on furniture makers and sellers to immediately stop selling products that don’t meet this new standard. Children’s lives depend on it.” 

This caveat may make shopping for a new dresser a little confusing for parents—partly because furniture doesn’t usually come with a date-of-manufacture label. Here are some tips to help caregivers make a safe choice when shopping and installing a dresser or other new furniture: 

  • Ask the retailer or manufacturer when the dresser was made and if it is compliant with the new STURDY Act requirements. If they are unsure or can’t answer, take a pass.
  • Make sure the dresser comes with an anchor kit—and use it. The STURDY Act requires that all dressers covered under the rule have to be sold with one, but some retailers have already been providing them anyway.
  • Bear in mind that the new rules only apply to dressers and other clothing storage furniture, not bookshelves, entertainment centers, televisions, or tables, all of which could also potentially pose tip-over risks to kids. So for anyone with small kids in the house, the good advice remains, when in doubt, anchor it. CR has a video tutorial that can teach you how.

This new lifesaving safety rule results from years of advocacy by Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT)—a parent advocacy group—and consumer safety organizations such as CR, as well as our in-depth investigative reporting. In August 2023, the coalition sent an open letter to the furniture industry urging them to prioritize children’s safety by fully complying with the new safety rule going into effect on September 1. The coalition also strongly urges retailers to stop selling non-compliant furniture, be prepared to educate consumers on which products meet the new requirements, and encourage consumers to anchor furniture to the wall to prevent tip-overs.

Media Contact: Emily Akpan, emily.akpan@consumer.org