Furniture can be hazardous to your health.

That warning comes not from the Surgeon General, but from the embattled U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Furniture-related “tip-overs” rank third on the CPSC’s list of “Top Five Hidden Home Hazards,” released Aug. 1. “Rare-Earth Magnets” found in toys and jewelry rank first, followed by “Recalled Products,” which often remain in home use if purchased before they have been pulled off of store shelves. Rounding out the Top Five are “Windows & Coverings,” No. 4, and “Pool & Spa Drains,” No. 5.

“Furniture, TVs and ranges can tip over and crush young children,” says the CPSC in its summary of Top Five Hidden Home Hazards. “Deaths and injuries occur when children climb onto, fall against or pull themselves up on television stands, shelves, bookcases, dressers, desks and chests. TVs placed on top of furniture can tip over, causing head trauma and other injuries.”

The CPSC says “tip-overs” were responsible for 31 deaths and an estimated 3,000 injuries last year.

Sauder Woodworking Co. of Archbold, OH, knows firsthand about the consequences of tip-over related injuries. For the second time in three years, North America’s largest manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furniture has voluntarily issued a mass recall of TV stands because of tip-over complaints.

The 2004 recall involved 592,000 RTA TV carts and received widespread publicity because a 19-month-old girl was reportedly killed when a TV fell on her. The latest Sauder recall, issued July 25, involves approximately 414,000 TV stands sold at Wal-Mart stores nationwide and on The recall was prompted by 43 reports of TV stands collapsing, including three reports of individuals who required medical treatment for injuries.

How many of these incidents were due to poor product design as compared to misuse or the consumer’s inability to correctly assemble the product remains unclear. The CPSC’s announcement of the July 25 recall notes that “most of the reported incidents involved stands that had recently been assembled.” As part of the remedy, CPSC urged consumers to contact Sauder for detailed instructions on checking the tightness of the fasteners.

Furniture Among ‘CPSC’s Most Wanted’

Lane cedar chests and Simplicity cribs are among five products listed as “CPSC’s Most Wanted” on the agency’s Web site. Other “Most Wanted” products include store-purchased and homemade portable soccer goals, Playskool toy tool benches and SportsStuff Wego kite tubes. Each of the “Most Wanted” products remains in widespread use, even though they have been recalled following numerous complaints of injuries, including reports of deaths.

The Lane recall dates back to 1996 and involves nearly 12 million cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987. At least seven children’s deaths by suffocation, including one since the initial recall, have been linked to the chests which had locks that automatically latched when the lid was closed.

About 104,000 Simplicity Aspen 3-in-1 cribs with Graco logos were recalled on Feb. 6, 2006, following the report of a 19-month-old’s death by suffocation. After two of the mattress support slats came out, the child became entrapped between the mattress and the footboard.

Lightning struck a second time for Simplicity when it recalled about 40,000 cribs. Simplicity received a report of wrong instructions being packaged with the crib; the crib’s drop side was installed upside down, allowing it to fall from the upright position.

Final Notes

The Simplicity cribs were made in China. According to the CPSC, 60 percent of the 320 total recalls during the first nine months of the 2007 fiscal year were made in China or Hong Kong.

The day after the CPSC unveiled its list of “Top Five Hidden Home Hazards,” Mattel recalled nearly 1 million Fisher Price licensed character toys, like Dora the Explorer and several popular Sesame Street characters, because of lead poisoning hazards. These China-made products likely will earn a spot on the next CPSC Top Five list.

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