Joleen and Craig Dudek, whose 2-year-old son died in 2017 after an Ikea dresser fell onto him, recently settled with the furniture company for $46 million

By Jen Juneau
January 13, 2020 12:35 PM
Toddler peeking into dresser drawer

With reports of children being killed from falling furniture — including a 2-year-old boy in California who died in 2017 and whose parents recently settled with Ikea for millions — many parents are wondering what they can do to make sure their own kids are safe from similar incidents.

According to Dr. Gary Smith, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, “We see these injuries most often in children who are age 5 and younger. The most devastating injuries can be injuries to the brain or when a child becomes pinned beneath a heavy piece of furniture and suffocates.”

“The most important thing for parents to know is that these injuries are totally preventable,” he adds.

One tip from the AAP that parents of young children may want to keep in mind is to anchor large, heavy furniture such as TV stands, bookshelves, entertainment units, dressers and the like “securely,” which can be done “usually into a wall stud” with the use of brackets, anchors, wall straps and/or braces.

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Toddler in front of TV

RELATED: Ikea to Pay $46 Million Settlement to Parents of Calif. Toddler Killed by a Falling Dresser

The AAP also advises parents to place televisions “on low, sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV and not “on top of furniture that is not designed for such use,” like dressers — and remove items (e.g., remote controls, toys) from high places that could tempt children to reach up and pull at heavy furniture/devices.

Another article on the AAP’s website suggests that parents “install stops on dresser drawers to prevent them from being pulled out by the child so they can climb on them,” noting that “multiple open drawers also shift the weight of the dresser to the front, making it more prone to falling forward.”

The group urges parents to mount flat-screen televisions to the wall if possible, and push any heavy devices that may have to go on a low-standing piece of furniture more out of reach (i.e., toward the back as opposed to the front).

Baby in front of dresser

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The New York Times reported Monday that Joleen and Craig Dudek, whose son Jozef died in 2017 from asphyxia caused by mechanical compression of the neck after an Ikea dresser fell onto him, settled with the furniture company for $46 million.

“We miss him so much,” the Dudeks, who are from Buena Park, California, said in a statement to the outlet via their lawyer. “He would be turning 5 years old this April.”

“We never thought that a 2-year-old could cause a dresser just 30 inches high to topple over and suffocate him,” they continued. “It was only later that we learned that this dresser was unstable by design and did not meet safety standards, and that this had happened to other little boys.”

A spokesperson for Ikea added to the NYT, “While no settlement can alter the tragic events that brought us here, for the sake of the family and all involved, we’re grateful that this litigation has reached a resolution.”

Little girl watching TV

RELATED: Ikea Issues Voluntary Recall of Dressers and Chests That Have Killed Six Children

“We remain committed to working proactively and collaboratively to address this very important home safety issue. Again, we offer our deepest condolences,” Ikea’s statement continued.

It’s not the first time one of Ikea’s dressers has crushed a child to death, but little Jozef was the first one to die after Ikea issued a voluntary recall of millions of dressers in 2016, USA Today reported.

The recall came after six children were killed and 36 others were injured, PEOPLE previously reported.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a piece of furniture, TV or appliance tipping over causes an injury in the U.S. every 17 minutesConsumer Reports (CR) said in 2018.