Update: Following the death of a third child, Ikea is issuing another recall for its Malm chest. Despite the initial recall and distribution of wall-mounting hardware to over 300,000 consumers, this tragic accident prompted the company to take action. "It is clear that there are still unsecured products in customers' homes, and we believe that taking further action is the right thing to do," Ikea released in a statement, adding that it will continue to work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to prevent further accidents and develop safe products for its customers.
Original: After two children were killed in accidents caused by unanchored Malm dressers in 2014, Ikea issued a recall last July for nearly 27 million of the popular chest and drawer models. And the conversation about product safety has resurfaced due to a third death that took place this February. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the affordable furniture retailer's "chests and dressers can tip over if not attached to the wall, posing an entrapment hazard." Theodore McGee, 22 months old, tragically passed from this exactly — the dresser fell and crushed him, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In response to CPSC chairman Elliot Kaye's comment that "they need to do more and to make more stable furniture and they need to help lead industry," Ikea has introduced its Secure It! campaign. The retailer chose not to actually recall the products, claiming that the furniture is safe when assembled properly with the provided hardware. Many customers don't go through with that last, vital step. Instead of urging customers to return their Malm chests, Ikea has been offering free wall-anchoring repair kits to prevent any further hazard to children, which 300,000 customers have already taken advantage of.
In a statement issued to The Huffington Post by Ikea's US Corporate Public Relations Director, she said:
"We at IKEA offer our deepest condolences to the McGee family.
At IKEA, we believe children are the most important people in the world and the safety of our products is our highest priority. Consistent with our ongoing work and cooperation with the CPSC, upon being informed of this incident we immediately reported it to the CPSC and an investigation is taking place. IKEA has been advised that the product was not attached to the wall, which is an integral part of the product's assembly instructions.
We wish to emphasize that the best way to prevent tip-over of chests of drawers is to attach products to the wall with the included restraints and hardware per the assembly instructions. IKEA has included restraints with our chest of drawers for decades, and wall attachment is an integral part of the assembly instructions."
Theodore's family claims to have been unaware of Ikea's Secure It! repair program and plans to sue.
In addition to the two Malm-related deaths in 2014, the international brand also knows of three additional deaths caused by other Ikea dresser models. This is not an issue unique to Ikea, though — according to the CPSC, a child in the United States dies every two weeks due to tipped furniture or televisions, which inspired its Anchor It program in 2015. The injury rate is even higher: one child is injured every 24 minutes in similar accidents.
So if you've got an unanchored Malm chest or dresser in your home, be sure to keep it away from kids until you're able to claim a safety repair kit. To get yours, visit an Ikea store or visit the brand's safety website to order (free of charge).
— Additional reporting by Nicole Yi