The setting is Southern California. A toddler is playing in the living room in front of the TV when an earthquake strikes. In an unimaginable turn of events, the TV starts rocking and falls on top of the child, killing him.
This is a true story and one that is repeated many times a year throughout the country. But it doesn't take an earthquake for TV tragedy to strike. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh have identified TV tip-overs as one of the top hidden hazards in the home today.
CPSC statistics are alarming: Nearly 19,000 children 9 years old or younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for injuries related to televisions, furniture, and appliances tipping over, and nearly half of those incidents involve children 4 years old and younger.
Even worse, the CPSC received reports of 294 tip-over related deaths between 2000 and 2011, more than half of which involved falling televisions. Many of the injuries and deaths are related to head trauma.
Studies show that a dresser with a TV on top is a disaster waiting to happen as toddlers discover they can use open drawers as a step ladder. And the chance of significant injury or death is magnified when the TV is a tube model because the dresser becomes top heavy and highly unstable.
Even though nearly all TVs sold in recent years are lighter flat-panel LCD models, the old tube sets they replace often wind up in a bedroom or other room on furniture that was never meant to support a TV.
Tips for Avoiding a TV Disaster
Here are a few safety tips to reduce the risk of TVs tipping over in homes where young children live or visit.
- Avoid putting a TV - especially a heavy tube or plasma model - on top of a dresser or other piece of furniture that was not designed to support a TV.
- Place TVs on low furniture that is sturdy and, ideally, designed to support a TV, or consider mounting a flat-panel TV on the wall.
- If the above scenarios are not possible, use anchoring hardware to secure the furniture and TV to the wall. For example, the Furniture Tipping Restraint Package from B. Walter & Co. has two brackets that attach to one another via a locking strap. You screw one bracket into the back top edge of the furniture, the other into a stud in the wall behind it. Then you thread the strap through each bracket, remove the slack and lock the strap in place. TV anchoring straps for securing the TV to the wall or furniture are available at mypreciouskid.com and sold on Amazon.com as well as at retailers such as Walmart and Babies "R" Us.
- Make sure AV cables and power cords leading to the TV are out of the reach of children.
- Keep remote controls, toys and other items that attract children off of TV furniture and stands.
To learn more about TV safety and mounting flat-panel TVs, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.