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Falling Televisions Threat To Children

The Chicago Sun Times reported in November that a 3-year-old girl died when a television tipped over on her, causing a fatal craniocerebral injuries. The girl was the second child within a 10-day period near Chicago to die from being crushed by a television.

On October 30, a 6-year old boy was killed when a large television fell on him. An aunt living in the house was unable to move it off him. The Sun Times reports investigators believe he may have been attempting to climb on the television when it tipped over.

Is Your Furniture Secure?

This news highlights a problem examined by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in a study of instability of televisions, furniture and appliances. A report issued in September of 2011 found that there are an average of 43,400 emergency room visits every year caused by furniture related injuries and 293 deaths for the years 200-2010.

The CPSC advises the following steps be taken to protect children, and everyone, from these types of accidents:

  • "Anchor furniture to the wall or the floor.
  • Place TVs on sturdy, low bases.
  • Or, anchor the furniture and the TV on top of it, and push the TV as far back on the furniture as possible.
  • Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children off TV stands or furniture.
  • Keep TV and/or cable cords out of reach of children.
  • Make sure freestanding kitchen ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.
  • Supervise children in rooms where these safety tips have not been followed."

Not Just Little Children

While the two recent accidents in the Chicago area were young children, the report indicates that more than 15,000 of the annual emergency room visits were adults 18-59 years old. For those 60 years and older, there were 3,000 emergency room trips.

Televisions Pose a Significant Danger

Televisions represented the largest single type of furniture that fell, combined with stands or other furniture that were used as television stands. Televisions caused 60 percent of the fatal accidents, followed by chests, bureaus or dressers, at 31 percent, and appliances caused the remaining 9 percent.

Type of Injury

Most of the injuries suffered were contusions and abrasions, but there were also almost 5,000 internal organ injuries suffered by children. Because of their small size, they clearly are most at risk for being crushed and killed by heavy pieces of furniture. Children also had the greatest number of fatal head injuries.

Young Children

Of the children killed, 90 percent were younger than 5-years-old. Television stands and chests with drawers that can be climbed upon represent an attractive danger for young children, who may want to climb to get closer to the television. They fail to appreciate the risk and do not understand that the furniture may not be secured to the wall.

If you have small children, inspect the furniture in your house and secure or change the arrangement. The CSPC notes that a child dies every two weeks from furniture accidents, and that these types of accidents have remained steady for the last 10 years. The simple and cost effective protection is securely anchor the furniture or appliance.

Don't Forget the Kitchen

Stoves and ranges are also a danger, because the door can act as a lever to tip the appliance forward. These appliances have the added risk of burns and scalding caused by hot pots and pans sliding out or the oven or from the cook surface and injuring a person directly in front of the stove. They should always be installed with anti-tip bracket.

Other Dangers

A laundry room also poses a risk to small, inquisitive children. They can crawl inside washers and dryers and become trapped. Closing the door on a laundry room can be an effective deterrent.

Almost all of these hazards can be prevented by simple steps. While they do not result in thousands of deaths, the ease of prevention, and the tragedy of the death of a child is too great to be ignored.

"Children like to climb on furniture. Placing TVs on furniture not intended for them or having furniture that is not secured can have tragic consequences," said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "These tragedies can be prevented by taking low-cost steps. Anchor those TVs and dressers, and protect your child or a child visiting your home."