One of the recalled dressers—the Belmont, measuring under 30 inches—failed Consumer Reports' 2018 tests.

Two companies recalled dresser models last week after the products failed stability testing conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This marks the fourth and fifth dresser recalls in the past five months.

Ridgewood Industries (also known as Ameriwood Home) recalled about 1 million Belmont four-drawer dressers sold by Kmart and Sears between April 2013 and September 2019 for about $40. The dressers, which have been sold as the Essential Home Belmont, the Ridgewood Belmont, and the Ameriwood Belmont, come in four colors and two sizes, ranging in height from 29¾ inches to 32¼ inches.

The second company, E&E, recalled about 1,800 Ink+Ivy Renu three-drawer dressers, sold online at Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and elsewhere between January 2017 through September 2019 for about $350. The products are about 36 inches tall.

Both dressers are unstable if not anchored to a wall, posing a serious tip-over hazard that could result in death or injury, according to the recall notices from the CPSC, although no incidents have been reported with either.

The 29¾-inch Belmont dresser also failed Consumer Reports’ tip-over tests, which we reported in November 2018. CR’s testing then had focused on dressers 30 inches tall or lower, which at the time weren't covered by the industry’s voluntary safety standard even though shorter dressers had been linked to tip-overs that had caused injuries and deaths.

More On Furniture Tip-Overs

When CR informed Ameriwood Home of our test results at the time, a spokesperson said that “any dresser below 30 inches height should not have been tested . . . as it is completely out of the scope of [the voluntary industry] standard.” When asked why it recalled the product now, a company spokesperson said that it ”made a cautionary move to recall the 4-drawer Belmont dresser, regardless of the fact that no incident or injury has been reported.”

Since our 2018 testing, CR and other safety advocates have pushed for a stronger tip-over standard for dressers. And in August, the standards-development organization called ASTM International published a revised stability standard, which now includes dressers and other clothing storage units that are 27 inches tall and above.

According to the CPSC, the recall of the 29¾-inch Belmont is the first recall of a model 30 inches or below with no associated injuries or deaths.

The action is significant because it indicates that "if dressers are unstable and could hurt kids, the law requires furniture makers to recall them. And that’s as true for short dressers as for tall ones,” says William Wallace, CR’s manager of home and safety policy. “The CPSC has now made that clear.”

The CPSC tested more than 150 dressers and other clothing storage units this year to see whether they complied with the industry’s voluntary stability standard, with the aim of getting unsafe dressers off the market. In light of these tests, CR expects more dresser recalls will likely follow. The results of the tests will be presented on Nov. 7 at a furniture safety meeting convened by ASTM International.

Possible Progress on Dresser Safety

About one child dies every two weeks and one person is injured every 15 minutes when a piece of furniture or a television falls onto them, according to the CPSC. Thousands of those incidents each year involve dressers.

While the government testing and the revised safety standard are positive steps, CR’s safety experts have long said that the current standard isn't tough enough to prevent tip-over injuries and deaths. They and others would like additional improvements to the standard that more accurately reflect the weight of a young child and the way people use dressers.

“The CPSC needs strong rules in place to protect children in the real world. That means stability tests that use at least 60 pounds of weight and account for more than one drawer being open at a time,” Wallace says.

The Senate is currently considering legislation, already passed by the House, called the Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, which would require the CPSC to create a mandatory federal rule for dressers that's tougher than the industry’s current voluntary standard.

“Fortunately, a bipartisan group of the CPSC’s leaders support a stronger standard, so now Congress needs to pass the STURDY Act to make sure the CPSC can act quickly,” Wallace says.

What You Can Do

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled dressers and move them to a place that children can’t access.

Ameriwood Home isn't offering a refund for it’s Belmont four-drawer dresser. Instead, the company says it will provide consumers a free anchoring kit to secure the dresser to a wall and a free in-home installation of a wall anchor strap. To reach the company, call 888-222-7460 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time, or go to Ameriwood's support page for more information. You can order an anchoring kit online here.

When asked why the company wasn't offering a refund, a spokesperson said, “This remedy is tailored to the concern that led to this recall, namely that the dressers could tip if they are not anchored.”

Wallace, at CR, doesn’t think the company’s recall plan goes far enough. “People should be able to trust that their dressers are reasonably stable even if they’re not attached to the wall. For recalled and unstable dressers like these, they’ve got to have the option of a full refund as an incentive to get the product out of the home, the best way to keep children safe,” he says.

E&E, on the other hand, is offering not just free installation of anchor kits for its three-drawer dresser but also the option of a refund plus a free pick-up or a prepaid packaging label to ship the dresser back. To contact E&E, call 844-701-5979 between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time Monday through Friday, or go to the company’s recall page.

These two recalls come shortly after the September recall of 640 units of Home Meridian three-drawer chests, sold at Nebraska Furniture Mart stores, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Wayfair, and elsewhere from March 2017 through June 2019. The 32-inch chests sold for about $250. No incidents or injuries were reported but the products do not comply with the industry's voluntary safety standard and they pose a serious tip-over risk. To receive a refund or a free tip-over restraint kit along with a one-time free in-home installation of the kit, consumers can contact Home Meridian at 800-819-4796 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Monday through Friday, or visit the company's homepage and click on “Recall Information."

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, go to SaferProducts.gov.

Editor's Note: This article, first published on October 10, 2019, was updated to include information about a September 2019 recall of 640 chests by Home Meridian.