Most of us can remember the times when we would either climb on top of or into a dresser. While not everyone has a memory of a dresser tipping over, it is more common than you realize. Consumer Reports stated that “someone in the U.S. is injured every 17 minutes by a furniture, television, or appliance tip-over.”
How can we prevent dressers from tipping over? Here are 15 effective ways to prevent dressers from tipping over:
- Check Consumer Report’s tip test.
- Strap or anchor the dresser.
- Lock the drawers.
- Talk to your kids about dresser safety.
- Keep heavy and desired objects off the top of the dresser.
- Keep it clean.
- Check the legs for stability.
- Follow written guidelines.
- Open one drawer at a time.
- Use high-quality drawers that don’t stick.
- Use drawer stops.
- Avoid overloading your drawers.
- Supervise use.
- Avoid earthquake-prone areas.
- Replace a broken dresser.
We must first figure out what can cause dressers to tip over, bust repeated misunderstandings, and find out who is at risk of tipping dressers.
15 Ways to Keep Your Dresser Upright
Here are the best ways to make sure you, your family, and your dresser stay safe.
1. The Tip Test
While investigating and finding how problematic tipping dressers are, Consumer Report’s had led their own study on over 24 dressers. Each dresser was tested in three different phases to show how likely the dresser would tip over. Each dresser they tested along with the results of each phase can be found here.
Before purchasing a dresser, you can check to see what safety tests, if any, the manufacturers performed by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Remember to exercise caution and to never try and perform your own tip-over test.
2. Straps and Anchors
Safety straps and anchors can help secure dressers to the wall. By using a minimum of two brackets, the furniture restraints will be screwed into the dresser and a stud on the wall. Restraints can be found at home improvement stores online in a variety of sizes, quantities, and types.
Be sure to check what types of tools will be needed to install the restraints as most kits do not include the tools.
3. Lock Those Drawers
Though some dressers include locks, most do not. Safety locks are usually easier to install than restraints and can be used to keep children from climbing into drawers by attaching the adhesives to the side of the dresser and the drawer.
There are also magnetic locks, key locks, and latches that come in a variety of designs and colors to choose from in this category. Usually the safety locks are created from metal or plastic and can be installed without the need of extra tools.
4. Have the Dresser Talk
Most children do not think of the dangers that climbing on top of a dresser could bring them. One way that can help children understand how dangerous dressers tipping over can be, is by having a safety talk with your children.
If you enjoy science, maybe take the chance to turn the talk into an active experiment using blocks and bread.
- Gather a piece of bread, wooden blocks (bigger blocks are better for this experiment), and a plastic sheet.
- Create a tower that is in the shape of a dresser and put the piece of bread in front of the “dresser.”
- Explain that the bread represents a person and the blocks represent a dresser.
- Now the fun part: take the front bottom block out and watch the blocks topple onto the bread. This phase can be shown by taking the bottom, middle, or block near the top out and seeing what happens.
- Remove the blocks and see the damage to the bread.
By explaining to your children that dressers become very heavy when they fall over, you can prevent accidents from happening.
5. Heavy Objects
Depending on the location of the dresser, there may be a television or gaming system sitting on top of it. For taller dressers, setting a TV on top can cause the dresser to become unbalanced- increasing the risk of the dresser and TV falling over.
If you decide that you want your TV over your dresser, there are several steps you can take to decrease the chance of your TV and dresser falling:
- Either mount or use anti-tip straps to secure your TV on (or over) your dresser
- Secure the dresser to the wall and then put the TV towards the back of the dresser
- Do not store movies, games, or other electronics that your child would be likely to climb and grab near the TV
6. Keep it Clean!
Often times, we will store books, jewelry, or other items on top of the dresser. Depending on the items, this can cause for the dresser to become unbalanced or it can cause children to become curious.
By keeping the top of the dresser clear of items, children may be less likely to climb up and try to grab at the top of the dresser. It is still important to speak with children about the dangers of dressers tipping over and coming up with solutions that will keep them from climbing on top of the dresser.
7. Fixing Legs
Do you remember that one old dresser that always wobbled and had a stack of magazines under one leg in order to stay standing? Any dresser can get to the point where one, or more, of the legs needs to be adjusted.
The leg may just be loose and need to be tightened. Or if you are talented in woodwork and can make a new leg- just replace the leg. Fixing loose legs greatly decreases the chance of a dresser from tipping over, especially when it is already leaning.
8. Following Guidelines
There are two types of people: those who follow the instructions and those who build without the instructions. It is very important to follow the guidelines that the manufacturer provides with your dresser because they may include information on weight limits or tips on how to reduce tip-over incidents.
If your dresser does not come with a set of instructions because you bought it set-up or used, then you can go to the manufacturer website to check past guides or call the manufacturer.
9. One Drawer at a Time
Remember to open one drawer at a time. By only having one drawer open, instead of multiple drawers, this allows for the center of gravity to not be greatly affected. Having all of the drawers open increases the risk of the dresser tipping over.
Some dressers come installed with interlock systems that will only allow you to open one drawer at a time. There are also interlock drawer slide kits that can be installed onto dressers. Make sure to check the size compatibility before trying to install a new slider to your dresser.
10. Quality Over Stuck Drawers
After a certain amount of time, dressers may go through being moved, stuffed, or toppling over which will cause drawers to not work the same. If you have ever tried to open the one drawer that always sticks, you know what I’m talking about.
Certain dressers that are not quality builds may come with sticky drawers. These dressers have a higher probability of tipping over because of the force necessary to open stuck drawers. If possible, test drawers before purchasing the dresser to see if the drawers are difficult to open.
You can also check the warranty if it is a defect in craftsmanship depending on how old the dresser is.
11. Drawer Stops
Similar to how the drawer locks work, drawer stops will help keep the drawers from being pulled out on accident. Though drawers can still be pulled out, there is an extra step that will allow for the drawer to be tilted or lifted out without automatically sliding out.
Drawer stops are helpful with drawers that tend to open on their own. Always check to see if there are extra tools that are needed to install drawer stops and if the type you are purchasing will work with the brand of your dresser.
12. Drawer Overload
Sometimes we run low on space and try to add extra into the dresser drawers. By stuffing drawers, you risk breaking the bottom of each drawer or for the dresser to become unstable.
Steps to take in order for the drawers to not be overstuffed include:
- Determine if you need to keep all items in the drawer
- Separate and divide items
- Throw away or donate unused goods
- Purchase a larger dresser to replace current dresser
- Purchase a second dresser
- Hang up clothes that can go in the closet
By taking the above steps, you can clear out your drawers and not deal with a broken or dangerous dresser caused by overstuffed drawers.
13. Supervised Use
Young children have the greatest risk of tipping over the dresser. By supervising young children when they are playing around a dresser or practicing their independence, you can prevent an accident before it happens.
Supervising your child also allows for a decrease in other potential hazards including:
- Access to hazardous items in drawers
- Pinched or squished fingers
- Electrical items- flat irons, curlers, hairdryers
14. Earthquakes, Windows, and Dressers
When deciding on the location of the dresser, a great spot seems to be near or in front of the window. For those with children, this can cause children to become curious about looking outside the window by trying to climb on top of the dresser.
In areas that have earthquakes, dressers may fall and break the window. If you do live in an area that is prone to having earthquakes, then having the dresser away from the window will help reduce the damage that the earthquake can cause.
Depending on the dresser and if you plan on staying in your home for many years and you plan on keeping your dresser for a long time, you can look into securing your dresser to the floor. Though this is not as common as securing it the wall, it is a possible solution that will keep your dresser in place.
15. Replace the Broken Dresser
We talked about replacing a broken leg, but sometimes the dresser as a whole needs to be replaced. I remember a particular dresser we owned that had the front drawers falling off, leg was replaced by books, and ALL the drawers stuck.
The more broken a dresser is, the more dangerous it can become. If you have a questionable dresser, then it may be time to replace it. If you are unsure if you have a dresser that needs to be replaced, here are some questions to consider:
- Does the dresser tip each time I try to open the drawers?
- Do I have to put magazines or books under multiple legs of my dresser?
- Do I need to use force to open the dresser drawers?
- Is there an unusual smell that doesn’t seem to go away?
- Do the drawers fall off when I try open them?
Most misconceptions about dressers can indirectly increase the risk of the dresser tipping over. Let’s check out some common misconceptions about dressers:
- Heavy dressers are less likely to tip over- No matter how heavy a dresser is, if the center of gravity becomes unbalanced, the possibility of the dresser tipping over increases.
- Child-free homes don’t need to worry about tipping furniture- Even households without children can come to deal with tipping dressers. Again, if the dresser has poor craftsmanship or heavy items on top, then there is a chance that it will tip over.
- If you lock the drawers, children won’t climb the dresser- This personally reminds me of a child I babysat. The home had a freestanding refrigerator, no counters near it, and he climbed his way to the top of the fridge. Remember: children will find a way.
- Only young children climb dressers- Being honest, I’m pretty sure I’ve climbed on questionable surfaces when I needed to reach something that I couldn’t get otherwise. Though I had a spotter, most likely, children are not concerned about the consequences of standing on dressers.
- Expensive dressers are less likely to tip over- Any dresser brand at any price can tip over under the correct circumstances. It is always important to be prepared.
- Only tall dressers will tip over- All dresser shapes and sizes can tip over depending on how weight is distributed throughout the dresser.
Why Do Dressers Tip Over?
Imagine standing up straight then, putting more weight on one leg, you start to slowly lean to one side. When we are not balanced, we tend to fall over and the same applies to dressers. Explain That Stuff! does a wonderful job explaining “center of gravity” and why “tall things topple over.” When a dresser is front heavy or weight is not distributed evenly throughout the dresser, the possibility of it tipping over becomes greater.
Other common reasons that can cause a dresser to tip over include:
- Climbing on open drawers to reach something on top of the dresser
- Heavy items in open drawers
- Weak, or uneven, dresser legs
- Heavy items, including televisions and stereos, that are not properly placed on a dresser
- Poor construction and/or design
- Natural disasters like earthquakes
- Unstable foundation- this includes uneven floors
Who is at Risk for Tipping Dressers?
Anyone who comes in contact with a dresser can be at risk of it tipping over. While 82% of accidents happen with children under six years old, teens, adults, and seniors can also suffer injuries from tipping dressers.
How can you be at risk when you know not to climb on furniture? Don’t worry! We took the common scenarios from above and created an easy-to-read table of those that would most likely be affected by tipping dressers.
|Climbing on open drawers||Toddlers, Children, Pre-teens, and Teens|
|Heavy items in open drawers||Toddlers, Children, Pre-teens, Teens, Adults, and Seniors|
|Weak/Uneven dresser legs||Toddlers, Children, Pre-teens, Teens, Adults, and Seniors|
|Heavy/Unbalanced items on top of the dresser||Toddlers, Children, Pre-teens, Teens, Adults, and Seniors|
|Poor construction or design||Toddlers, Children, Pre-teens, Teens, Adults, and Seniors|
|Earthquakes||Toddlers, Children, Pre-teens, Teens, Adults, and Seniors|
|Unstable foundation||Toddlers, Children, Pre-teens, Teens, Adults, and Seniors|
Of the seven scenarios listed above, all age groups can be affected by at least six of the causes depending on location, design, etc.
While we can all be at risk of tipping over a dresser, here is a great reminder from Childproofing Experts:
“Children will not think about the risk of injury or death when climbing on a dresser to reach a toy or something they want.”
The above tips and tricks can be used either alone or mixed and matched to meet your needs. By realizing what can cause dressers to tip over, you are one step closer to preventing your dresser from tipping.
Remember: It doesn’t matter how big or small your dresser is, there is still a chance that it can tip.