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Greg Webb
Greg Webb
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Falling TVs Another Threat to Home Safety

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We know there are many things people can do to ensure the safety of their homes and families. Homeowners can test for Radon, invest in good air filtration systems, and install fire and burglar alarm systems. However, there is a recent threat to safety of children in the home that is proliferating that will surprise most folks. It seems as our quest to acquire larger and more televisions has grown, so has the risk of related accidents. The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says that “last year 14,000 children visited emergency rooms because a TV or other heavy piece of furniture fell on them.” (Parade Magazine, October 2, 2011, pp. 10-11.)

A November 1, 2011, article in The Chicago Tribune by Duaa Eldeib and Michelle Stoffle, reported that between 2000 and 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received reports of 245 children ages 8 or younger being killed after a TV or heavy furniture fell on them. Of the 245 child fatalities, 169 involved falling televisions, according to a September 2011 report released by the CPSC. In addition, during 2010, emergency rooms across the country reported an estimated 20,000 injuries related to the "instability" of televisions.

In 2009, Dr. Gary Smith, Director, Ohio‘s Center for Injury Research and Policy, co-wrote a study on injuries to children caused by falling TVs and tipped-over furniture. The findings were children 6 and younger accounted for most of the injured, and TVs were “the most common culprit for children 9 and younger.” Had the TVs or furniture been secured, most of the injuries and deaths might have been prevented, according to Scott Wolfson, Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman. One would think that the larger, older TVs would be the biggest problem, but according to Wolfson, “The nature of that [flatscreen] TV is it’s easier to tip over. We are concerned about the head injuries and some of the crushing injures we’ve seen" with the flat screens.”

To stem the tide of falling TVs (that just sounds strange), it is important that the mounting apparatus of the television is secure. Whatever it takes—whether it is time, patience, more tools or better directions–to accomplish this, it is well worth it. Moving heavy furniture and bookcases away from the television is advised, so children can’t climb on top of one thing to reach the other. Anchoring furniture so that it cannot tip is important. Placing older, heavier TVs on dressers (or banishing old TVs to the garage) becomes a hazard, as young children are fascinated with climbing and can pull a TV down on themselves, especially if it is not secured or strapped to a stand. Dr. Smith pointed out that a few retailers sell brackets and straps for TVs separately, but it would be better if they were included at point-of-sale, similar to seatbelts in cars, so that people would use them more readily. If one is using a wall-mounted bracket, ensure that it is securely anchored to the wall by attaching it to stud boards in the wall. Follow all instructions for installation of the mounting brackets carefully.