Monday, July 27, 2015

Child Safety


A friend chuckled ruefully about buying a new dresser two weeks before the recent safety warning made the rounds of morning news broadcasts. Jake said his partner had grumbled about a piece of Seventies bloat ware that had been on his secret hit list for a couple of years. He’d held off complaining because he thought she liked the six foot long faux Mediterranean dresser whose ratio of structure to storage capacity was about six to one. It dated from the early Seventies when energy and real estate were cheap, wood abundant, and awareness of good design in limited distribution. It took mere minutes to move the behemoth to solid waste and order a replacement from the Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Chain.

Once the new dresser was assembled, it became apparent that it was just heavy enough to survive daily use and just light enough for a child to tip over. However, the ratio of storage capacity to outer dimensions is nearly one to one.

Here are some suggestions for making the best of an iffy safety situation. Be your own judge about what is prudent and effective. The Chain’s kit for attaching the dresser to a wall arrived not long after the safety advisory hit the air. Not every landlord will appreciate a fresh set of holes in the dry wall. 

Start by putting child safety latches on each drawer. That might be advisable with any dresser. I knew a boy who loved to empty drawers and use them as dry land rowboats. After he had stomped the life out of two or three pieces of case goods, his mother designed and built a dresser with quarter inch plywood bottoms on the drawers and one-inch pine sides and backs

On a hard floor, I’d consider getting a piece of hardboard the width of the dresser and deep enough that anyone who wants to open a drawer will have to stand on it. Attach the hardboard to the rails along the bottom of the dresser’s frame. Let the nearest hardware clerk advise about what fasteners will be most effective. I might try stick-on industrial grade hook and loop fasteners. It might be possible simply to stick the dresser in place with lines of mounting tape plus a couple of minor straps of duct tape connecting the bottom of the safety plate to the back of the storage unit and secured with tacks.

Put heavy things in the bottom drawer, with or without the hardboard plate. Consider fastening a plate to the bottom of any dresser on any soft or hard floor and heavily weighting the space between the plate and the bottom drawer. This would be a good place to store emergency canned food or bags of sand. Tip the dresser toward the wall by placing shims of some kind under the front rail. A line of paint stirring sticks or a yardstick might be a practical choice. Secure with rug mounting tape. Run a line of dark marker along the side of the shim that shows to deemphasize the modification.

Alternatively, sidestep a dresser by hanging nylon shoe and sweater bags from a closet pole. There are more interesting things to look at in a sleeping room than a dresser. A small table supports private meals. I’d consider stowing clothes in a featherweight set of plastic drawers and concealing it in the closet. Works of art, quality bedding, and the untold wealth of a digital screen easily replace the visual richness that storage furniture adds to a room. 

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