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A small children's dresser may not seem to pose the same hazard as the full-size armoire in your own bedroom, but looks can be deceiving. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), young children often use dressers to climb, and accidents can occur when any size dresser is not safely anchored to the wall. In fact, the CPSC estimates that more than 25,000 children under 18 years of age are injured each year as a result of falling furniture accidents. It's important to make sure your kiddo's dresser is safely secured, whether it's a 72-inch-tall chest of drawers or a 30-inch-tall kid-size dresser.
Find a Wall Stud
In order to properly secure the dresser in your child's bedroom, you'll have to attach it to a stud in the wall, not to the wall itself. The wall is likely made of plaster or wallboard, and any screws secured into these materials will pull out easily if your child exerts forward pressure on the dresser explains Michael Litchfield in his book "Renovation, 3rd Edition." Since you can't see the studs behind the wall, you'll have to locate them by another means. The most effective way to locate a stud is to use a stud finder -- a battery-operated device that recognizes the differences in structure behind the wall. Turn the stud finder on and hold it against one edge of the wall. Slide it across the wall and wait for it to light up or beep (depending on the stud-finder model). The stud finder has now located a stud. Mark it on the wall with a pencil and continue along to find the next stud if the dresser tip restraint requires more than one.
When you purchase a dresser with a tip restraint, a lot of the work has been done for you. The dresser comes preinstalled with safe and proper brackets at the top back of the unit. All you have to do is locate one or two studs in the wall (depending on the particular anti-tip device) and drill the included brackets into the wall studs. The safety brackets attached to the dresser will connect to those in the wall with rods, chains or safety straps.
Dressers Without Tip Restraints
If you've fallen in love with an antique piece of furniture that doesn't come with a built-in anti-tip device, you can install one yourself to make the dresser just as safe. Pick up an anti-tip kit from your favorite childproofing product retailer, and then it just takes a few minutes and a couple of handy tools to make the dresser safe. The installation instructions vary by model, but the installation generally starts with drilling a hole in the back of the dresser, near the top. Next, install an anti-tip bracket on the inside top of the dresser and slide the rod attached to the bracket through the hole. Screw the remaining anti-tip bracket into a wall stud. Slide the end of the rod through the bracket and secure it in place with the grip locking pin.
Securing a dresser to a wall stud may keep it from falling on your child, but that doesn't mean your child can't still fall from the dresser. Dresser drawers provide youngsters with something to climb, and even if the dresser can't tip over, a fall from even one or two dresser drawers up can result in injury. “They WILL climb them,” stresses Kim Estes, a child-safety expert in Redmond, Washington. “If not your kid, someone else's kid will decide to use furniture like a jungle gym.” Installing a childproof drawer latch on each drawer makes climbing injuries less likely and is another important step to making your child's dresser safe and secure.
Watch out, too, for unsecured items on top of the dresser. According to the CPSC, it has become increasingly common to move older televisions into children's rooms, and many of these units are not placed on proper television stands but rather on top of dressers and other unfit furniture. Just a little jiggling can make an unsteady television fall from its precarious perch on top of a dresser. Keep dresser tops clear of any heavy items, such as televisions and even heavy bookends.