7 On Your Side, Consumer Reports: The hidden danger of dressers

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The numbers are frightening: Every 17 minutes someone is injured by furniture, a TV or an appliance tipping on them. And about every 10 days, a child dies from a tip-over incident.

Parents might be surprised to learn that furniture, including dressers, are not required to be tested before they are sold. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney reports on an exclusive new Consumer Reports testing, revealing there are big differences when it comes to dresser stability.

It is a scary thing to experience -- dressers tipping over during Consumer Reports' demonstration of furniture stability. It's something Janet McGee knows all too well.

"When I opened the door even further, right in front of me, was his dresser that had fallen forward, and immediately oh my God, it is so quiet in here, he has to be under it," she said.

Her 22-month-old son Ted suffered fatal injuries when a dresser fell on top of him. "I remember having the thought of, I hope this is a dream, but I know this isn't a dream," said McGee.

RELATED: IKEA relaunches dresser recall after death of 8th child

The dresser that killed Ted McGee was an IKEA Malm. Ikea later recalled the dresser.

It has since changed its design, and it did not respond to requests for comment about the incident involving Ted.

But here's the question: How stable are new dressers currently on the market?

Consumer Reports bought 24 models from different furniture manufacturers, then evaluated them based on three different tests.

Thirteen dressers passed all the tests, while 11 failed at least one test.

Dressers from Pottery Barn, Epoch, and Sauder, among others, passed Consumer Reports' 60-pound test. Models from South Shore and Ameriwood, among others, failed a 50-pound test.

Both South Shore and Ameriwood say their products meet voluntary safety standards.

So, how can you tell if a dresser in your home is secure?

RELATED: Boy, 2, crushed by Ikea dresser; first death since recall

"That's the thing about all of this. You can't tell a dresser by just, whether it's going to be tipsy, just by looking at it," said James Dickerson, Consumer Reports Chief Science Officer.

Which is why Consumer Reports is pushing for mandatory safety standards, and says all furniture should be properly anchored to a wall.

Janet McGee agrees. She says manufacturers should also design and build safer furniture. "I should be able to purchase something, and put it in my child's room, and it be safe," she said.

7 On Your Side reached out to IKEA regarding Janet McGee's case, and they send their deepest condolences to the McGee family. IKEA is heavily investing in innovative product development and testing for safer homes.

Down below is IKEA's statement. Also, here is a link to Consumer Reports' complete furniture test results, and a video showing how to properly anchor furniture to a wall.

RELATED: IKEA recalls 29 million dressers after child deaths

"No parent should ever experience the loss of a child, and we have expressed our deepest condolences to the families.

Tip-over is a serious issue for the whole industry. On average, a child dies every 10 days, and a child is injured about every 30 minutes in the United States from a TV or furniture tip-over incident, according CPSC data from 2011 to 2013.

Regardless of design and construction, a dresser is only safe when attached to the wall properly. For decades, IKEA dressers have included wall attachment hardware. We have advocated for wall attachment for many years and are pleased that the last ASTM standard warning label now prominently recommends wall attachment. All chest of drawers currently being sold in IKEA US stores meet the ASTM voluntary standard.

Since 2016, we have offered many ways for consumers to participate in our recall in the U.S. If a dresser is NOT attached to the wall, the customer should immediately:
Attach it to the wall or remove it to a place where it cannot be accessed.
If the customer does not want to attach it to the wall, bring it back to an IKEA store, or we can come pick it up, for a full refund.
Or, IKEA can provide the customer with a wall attachment kit. We'll even come to your home and secure it free of charge.

Through our Secure It! Campaign, we have been working for years to raise awareness of the tip-over issue. Educating consumers about the danger of tip-over and the need for wall attachment is the first step in preventing accidents. We have launched national TV, print, digital and social media advertising, as well as spreading the message through traditional media stories and organic social engagement. We communicate the Secure It! message in our stores, in our IKEA Family Newsletter and on our website.

We strongly believe that accidents related to furniture tip-over is are a serious home safety issue for the entire home furnishing industry which requires the effort from everyone. IKEA is committed to helping move the industry ahead in this area, which is why we are heavily investing product development and testing, leading to innovative solutions for safer homes."

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

Written and produced by Justin Mendoza
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.