Free standing furniture and TVs can become a safety risk, causing serious injuries or death if they become unstable and tip over.
In Australia, there have been at least 28 deaths involving toppling furniture since 2000 and they cause close to 20 injuries every week.
Freestanding storage furniture contributed to most deaths, with children under 5 most at risk.
In August of 2016, Blake Shaw was killed when a freestanding bookshelf tipped over and fell on him. He was just 3 years old. His mum and dad, Kirstie and Tim, have bravely shared Blake’s story with us. They want to help raise awareness of the risks of toppling furniture.
KIRSTIE SHAW: Our Blakey was one of a kind that's for sure. He came into this world a bit early at 36 weeks. He was very particular in everything that he did. He had things a certain way and you couldn't touch it.
TIM SHAW: He'd be happy to walk off into another room and play with his cars on the car mat. Just lying down just shaking his legs back and forth for hours on end. He was just
KIRSTIE SHAW: He was just perfect
NEWS READER: The parents of a three-year-old boy are trying to comprehend how their son was killed by a bookcase in a tragic accident at the family's home in rural Victoria. Now we understand that the bookshelf itself or the cabinet was quite heavy it wasn't secured but it was pushed up against a corner.
KIRSTIE SHAW: And then we just heard Adam yell 'help'
TIM SHAW: crash
KIRSTIE SHAW: Crash and bang and the cabinet was down.
TIM SHAW: Got the cabinet up to the top and he was just right in the bottom corner just curled up. He was gone by then.
WARWICK TEAGUE: The sad truth is every year one or two children like Blake will die from injuries from toppling furniture or televisions. Particularly injuries here are in children that are about one or two years of age. Sometimes as young as six months of age and they have mostly sustained injuries to their head. This could be fractures of the skull it could be injury to the brain itself or bleeds on or around the brain and these are injuries with potential long-term even life-threatening consequences.
MELANIE COURTNEY: Children are naturally inquisitive and will not always use furniture as its intended. That's why we need to ensure that their environments are as safe as possible. So most furniture is now sold with either a fastener or an anchor that you can use. If not you can purchase these from your local hardware or baby store. It's really important to take that extra few minutes when you're assembling furniture to make sure that you have secured it as per the manufacturer's instructions.
WARWICK TEAGUE: There's no wall and there's no piece of furniture that's more precious and more beautiful than your child. There's no agreement that we have or commitment that we make that is more important or more valid than the commitment we make to our children to protect them from injury.
VOICE OVER: There are further measures you can take to prevent furniture tip overs. Place locking devices on drawers to prevent children from opening them and using them as steps. Remove any items from the top of furniture that children may try to access such as toys, TV remotes and lollies. Remove any heavy items from the top of furniture such as vases and ornaments as this can cause furniture to become unstable.
KIRSTIE SHAW: It's not something you think about it's you know 'oh yep' or 'I'll do it later' or but you don't think about it until you see it happen or you know someone close to you that happens.
VOICE OVER: Don't wait for tragedy to strike. Anchors are available at hardware stores and at many furniture and television retail outlets. Make it a priority today. Visit the ACCC Product Safety Australia website or contact your state or territory Consumer Protection Agency for more information
Injuries and deaths from toppling furniture and TVs are preventable. There are things we can all do to make our furniture and TVs safer.
Learn about toppling furniture and TVs
What's at stake
Freestanding furniture is dangerous. Learn what can happen
Use furniture and TVs safely
Things you can do around your home to reduce the risk of falling furniture and TVs
Safety tips for buying furniture and TVs
What to look for if you’re buying furniture and TVs, whether in-store, online, or second-hand
For government and industry
What retailers and manufacturers can do to make their products safer
What the ACCC is doing
How our work is helping to make Australian families safer
- IKEA Pty Limited — SUNDVIK Change Table / Chest of Drawers — 2 May 2019
- Fantastic Furniture Pty Limited — Tara and Toto Dining Chairs — 1 August 2019
- Kmart Australia Ltd — Anko Bianca Dining Chair — 6 August 2019
- IKEA Pty Limited — HEMNES Bookcases and Glass-Door Cabinets — 30 August 2019
- Nick Scali Ltd — Levanzo 3 Dining Table — 25 August 2019
- Triumph International Pty Ltd — Zac Dining Suite 2 December — 2019
- Adairs Retail Group Pty Ltd — Panama Bedside Table — 27 February 2020
- Park Design Furniture Pty Ltd — Aero Dining Chair — 17 June 2020
- ALDI Stores (A Limited Partnership) — Recliner Chair — 15 April 2021