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PSA: Important Furniture Safety

By 86'n It on Jan 03, 2013

After midnight last night while I was itching my pregnancy skin half raw and couldn't sleep because of pregnancy gas. (OMG.  I only ate apple/sweet potato soup. I give up.)

I came across a really very horrifying blog post about a little three-year-old being killed by a toppling dresser while her family slept.

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I started thinking about our furniture and what was secured.

TV: check

Billy IKEA bookcase: check

Franca's dresser: check

Nursery dressers: Oh crap.

It was all I could do to not get out of bed right then and there and strap them to the wall. How in the world did I not realize before how dangerous these dressers are? Look at the tall one! Ack, that could easily fall over on its own without a toddler even pulling out a drawer!

The next morning, after we dropped FC off at her first day of "preschool" (EEK!), I headed straight for the dreaded Babies R Us (had a merch credit) and picked up these wall straps.

Installation is normally very simple, but of course, an old house poses its own challenges. Plus, there are some really key things in doing this properly.

Here's what I did:

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First key thing is evaluating your piece of furniture and securing it in the right spot. DO NOT just screw through the back randomly. Most furniture has a thin layer of press board instead of  a solid back. Take out the top drawer out and inspect.

I was tempted to screw into that triangular brace, but when I really looked, it appeared to only be glued in, so I went for the top structural frame instead. (I didn't want to screw into the top of the piece for fear of splitting the wood.)

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The second key thing is to screw the wall bracket into a wall stud. DO NOT just screw it through your drywall/plaster. It will pull out. In a normal home, the studs are spaced at 16". So measure from a window or corner; use a stud finder or magnet; or try next to an electrical outlet.

The added complication in an old house is that the stud spacing is very often not 16" and stud finders/magnets don't usually work through plaster and lath. Electrical outlets are usually few and far between too.

What I usually do is measure 16" off a window or corner, then take a bare light bulb and for screw heads or other markings that align vertically and then drill test holes. This is often a *super fun* process. Sometimes you get lucky and hit a stud right away. More often than not though, you end up getting it on the sixth try like this. Really sucks, but better than an injured child right? Plus it will be hidden behind your furniture.

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Next up screw the brackets to the wall and to the furniture. See how here it looks like I'm just going through the thin press board of the furniture back, but I know that I screwed to the structural frame behind that inside the dresser.

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Quickly vacuum up any mess and move the furniture back into place.

Lastly, connect the straps and pull tight. (This dresser is so far off the wall because there is a baseboard radiator behind it.)

My wall strap kit recommended that the wall strap be 9" below the top of the furniture bracket, so take note before you start drilling your pilot holes.

I repeated this process for the shorter dresser too. There I got lucky and found a stud on the first try for the first strap and then on the fourth try for the second strap.

Pretty easy.

Here is where I get preachy:

Think it can't happen to you? Think your furniture is too low or heavy or sturdy? This is the dresser that silently killed poor Meghan Hope:

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Think again.

My thoughts go out to her family and any family that has faced a similar tragedy.

Securing these dressers cost me $10 and 20 minutes.

Do it. Today.

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