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Ikea recalling 35 million chests of drawers after six children killed when they toppled over

The recall affects 29 million units sold in the United States and a further 6.6 million units sold in Canada.

Image: Carolyn Kaster

FURNITURE GIANT IKEA is recalling more than 35 million chests of drawers in the US and Canada after six children were killed when the dressers tipped over.

The recalled furniture is “unstable if they are not properly anchored to the wall, posing a tip-over and entrapment hazard that can result in death or injuries to children,” Ikea North America said in a statement.

The recall affects 29 million units sold in the United States and a further 6.6 million units sold in Canada, Ikea said.

Eight million of the recalled items in the United States are Malm model chests and dressers, and 21 million additional children’s and adult chests and dressers. They were all manufactured between 2002 and June 2016.

“If you have, or think you have, one of these drawers… please act immediately,” said Elliot Kaye, head of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). “We’re imploring you.”

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, Kaye illustrated the tip-over danger by having personnel from his office use a 28-pound (13-kilograms) dummy dressed as a young girl hang from the top drawers of Malm furniture.

The empty bureau tumbled down on the dummy in repeated demonstrations.

Ikea Safety Recall Source: Carolyn Kaster

US customers can get a full refund or have Ikea personnel come to attach wall anchors at no charge.

Details of the Canadian recall were not immediately available, though an official with Health Canada told AFP that they would be known soon.

Toddlers crushed to death

In the statement, Ikea USA said it was “voluntarily recalling all chests and dressers that do not meet the performance requirements of the US voluntary industry standard.” The statement read:

Please immediately stop using any recalled chest or dresser that is not properly anchored to the wall and place in an area not accessible to children.

The paragraph was marked in red on the company website.

US victims include a two-year-old boy killed when a six-drawer chest tipped over on him in February 2014, a 23-month old boy who died when he was trapped under a three-drawer chest June 2014, and a 22-month-old boy crushed to death by a six-drawer chest in February, the CPSC said.

The three incidents involved Malm furniture, which is made of particle board or fiber board.

Ikea also reported 41 incidents of tip overs involving non-Malm furniture in the United States, resulting in deaths in July 1989, March 2002 and October 2007. Nineteen other children were injured, the CPSC said.

Malm model furniture has been sold since 1998 in Canada, and between 2002 and 2016 in the United States. Prices range between $70 and $200, depending on the model.

At company headquarters in Stockholm, Ikea group spokeswoman Kajsa Johansson told AFP that the drawers “meet all mandatory stability requirements on all markets where sold,” and said the bureaus were “safe when anchored to the wall” as instructed.

Ikea said that it has sold more than 147 million chests of drawers over the past 13 years, a bit more than half of them – 78 million – of the Malm brand.

In 2015, Ikea launched a campaign in the United States and Canada to encourage owners of Malm furniture to anchor the pieces to the wall.

A full list of affected furniture can be found on the website.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Ikea recalls stair gate after a number of children suffer falls>

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