Ikea relaunches recall after 8th toddler death

AP
Ikea on Tuesday relaunched a recall of 29 million chests and dressers after the death of an eighth child.
AP

Ikea on Tuesday relaunched a recall of 29 million chests and dressers after the death of an eighth child.

Chief executive Lars Petersson said Ikea wants to increase awareness of the recall campaign for several types of chests and dressers that can easily tip over if they are not properly anchored to a wall.

The death of a California toddler, who was found trapped under an Ikea Malm dresser in May, has raised questions about whether Ikea has effectively spread the word about the recall, which was first announced in June last year.

The Swedish retailer and the federal safety regulators are asking customers to take immediate action to secure the dressers, or to return them.

Petersson said Ikea has had an “extensive communication” campaign through social media, its website and television and print advertisements. Ikea e-mailed 13 million people about the recall two months ago, he said.

Still, heightening awareness of the recall is necessary “because we think that it’s so important to reach as many people as possible,” said Petersson.

Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States, said people who own the furniture can address any potential hazards by contacting Ikea.

The recall, which applies only to customers in the US and Canada, is for children’s chests and drawers taller than 0.59 meters and adult chests and dressers taller than 0.75 meters.

Customers should contact Ikea for a free wall-mounting kit. The company is also offering to send crews to attach them in the home.

Ikea is offering full refunds for anyone who no longer wants the furniture. Customers can bring them to a store, or Ikea will pick them up.

At least eight children under the age of 3 have been killed when an Ikea dresser fell on them, said the CPSC. The first death occurred 28 years ago and the others happened after 2002.

The latest death was Jozef Dudek, 2, of Buena Park, California.

The toddler had been put down for a nap when his father went to check on him and found him under the dresser, according to details released by lawyers retained by the family.

Alan Feldman, one of the lawyers representing the Dudek family, said Ikea’s recall has been “poorly publicized” and “ineffective in getting these defective and unstable dressers out of children’s bedrooms.”

The same team of lawyers represented the families of three toddlers who died when Ikea dressers fell on them. Ikea reached a US$50 million settlement with the families last December.

Petersson said more than 1 million dressers have been returned for a refund or have been secured to walls with Ikea’s help since 2015, when the company first offered free wall-mounting kits.

Buerkle said Ikea has “worked hard to make this an effective recall.” She said it presents customers with an array of options “and is as least burdensome to the consumer as it could be.”

Ikea said the recalled products are sold with instructions that they had to be attached to walls.

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