Gov. Baker proclaims June 2 Mass. Tip-Over Awareness Day

Nicole Shih
Telegram & Gazette
Kimberly Amato, founder of Meghan's Hope, with a picture of her daughter. Over her lap is a quilt made by a friend from Meghan’s clothing. Amato hopes the STURDY Act, which will be reintroduced to the House and Senate, will pass.

When Kimberly Amato heard that Gov. Charlie Baker signed the proclamation making June 2 Massachusetts Tip-Over Awareness Day, she burst into tears.  

“I literally got it in the mail and I started to cry. Finally somebody's listening to Meggie,” said Amato, founder of Meghan’s Hope.  

Massachusetts only second state to proclaim a furniture Tip-Over Awareness Day

After 16 years since Amato’s three-year-old twin daughter Meghan Agnes Beck died on Dec. 18, 2004 from a dresser that toppled while the rest of her family was asleep, Gov. Charlie Baker has proclaimed June 2 Massachusetts Tip-Over Awareness Day. 

Inspired by Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who declared a state furniture tip-over prevention day, Amato made a request to Gov. Baker and hoped he would follow.

Amato said to her knowledge, Massachusetts is only the second state to proclaim a furniture Tip-Over Awareness Day.   

“I chose June 2 because the National Safety Council has declared the whole month of June National Safety Month, and particularly the first week of June is home hazard awareness week,” Amato said.  

Kimberly Amato with the proclamation that makes June 2 Tip-Over Awareness Day in Massachusetts

Only the beginning 

But Amato knows it is just a start.  

“It's a relief in a way, but it is just the beginning,” Amato said. “The federal law is the only thing that's going to guarantee that in the future, furniture is made more stable so that it doesn't fall over in the first place.”

She has also been meeting with Rep. Kimberly Ferguson, a Holden Republican, to discuss the possibility of a state-specific furniture safety bill, which Amato requested be named “Meggie's Bill”, and eventually, hopefully, "Meggie's Law." 

Ferguson said the bill is at the beginning of its filing process, which is a two-year legislative cycle that could take years to get passed.

"My hope, of course, (is for it) to become a law, and this was brought forward by Kim Amato after the tragic death of her child, so it's certainly my intention to file it for her and hope that it becomes law," Ferguson said. "Other states are taking the lead doing this, and we should try to do it in Massachusetts."

Main components of bill 

There are two main features of the state bill. 

First, the bill would require that anyone who sells clothing storage furniture including dressers, armoires and chests of drawers, only sell those that comply with the current highest safety standard.  

Currently, the standard is not mandatory. The ASTM F2057 is a voluntary stability and safety standard for clothing storage units.  

Second, the bill would also require that anyone who sells furniture of any kind, to prominently post signage at checkout counters, alerting customers and consumers of the risk of furniture tip-overs. 

Also, the measure would require furniture retailers to sell furniture anchors at checkout and points of sale; and require that clerks be responsible for educating anyone purchasing furniture about the risk of tip-over injuries and deaths and the importance of properly anchoring furniture to the wall.  

Meanwhile, Amato is continuing her fight to see the STURDY Act —a stronger federal law which requires furniture pass specific stability tests—to meet safety standards, pass through Congress and make it to the President's desk.   

2020 Tip-Over Report

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2020 Tip-Over Report, from 2000 to 2019:

  • An estimated 25,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year for injuries caused by a furniture, TV,or appliance tip-over. That is 68 people, most of whom are children, every day. 
  • There have been 571 reported fatalities from tip-overs related to furniture, TVs and appliances, at least 469 of which were children. 
  • 82% of fatalities from furniture tip-overs involve children under 14. 
  • 14% of fatalities from tip-overs involve adults over 60. 
  • About every 46 minutes a child is taken to the ER with injuries sustained from a tip-over. 
  • About every two weeks a child dies from those injuries. 

Until there is a mandatory furniture stability standard, Amato said, the risk of tip-overs can be significantly reduced through education and proper anchoring of furniture, TVs and appliances to the wall.

Many people do not know about risks or how to prevent tip-overs

Unfortunately, there are still far too many people who simply do not know about the risk of tip-overs or how to prevent them, she said. 

A Consumer Reports investigation on furniture anchoring found that less than 30% of Americans anchor furniture in their homes.  

Similarly, a study by the CPSC on the effectiveness of their "Anchor It!" campaign found that even if consumers are aware that furniture and TVs can tip over, they are not likely to take action to prevent it. 

Lack of awareness deadly

"This is largely because of misconceptions about the physics of instability and tip over, the belief that it will not happen to them, or because they think they are always watching their child, so they are not at risk," Amato said. "This lack of awareness can and has been deadly."

If the Massachusetts state law passes, it will be a huge step in the right direction, Amato said. 

"It's not even about my kid anymore. It's about yours. It's about all the other children that deserves to grow up, and their parents deserve to see them go through those milestones and grow up and give them grandchildren and all the things that I'm not getting," Amato said. "I don't want other people to know what that's like. I don't want them to know my pain. I don't want them to have to bury their children from something that could have been prevented."