Televisions are common to just about every household in America, but many of us don't realize that they also pose a serious danger to kids. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, every two weeks a child dies from a furniture tipover incident, and every 24 minutes a child goes to the emergency room with a tipover-related injury. An increasing number of these tragic deaths and injuries are due to televisions, purchases of which have only risen with the introduction of flatscreens and ever-newer technology.
Dr. Michael Cusimano, a Toronto neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital and the author of a new study in the Journal of Neurosurgery Pediatrics, makes a connection between the jump in TV sales and more child injuries and deaths from accidents at home:
Kids are left unsupervised around a big television that is not properly secured. And the numbers are going up. Between 2006 and 2008 there were 16,500 injuries and between 2008 and 2010 there were 19,200. If you look at the sales of these TVs there's a parallel increase.
In addition, three-fourths of child injuries occurred in the absence of adult supervision, while a full 84% took place at home. So if falling televisions can be a potentially deadly threat to our kids, what can we do to minimize the risk? No parent would want to experience the heart-wrenching tragedy of a precious life interrupted. Dr. Cusimano points out some simple steps you can take to secure your television and furniture in just minutes:
- Create a children's play area safe and separated from the television set. Also clear toys and other objects, like the remote control, from the television stand so that kids won't have a reason to play near the TV.
- Use the right furniture to hold up a television - oftentimes dressers and cabinets are not sturdy enough to support unwieldy flatscreens or even older tube televisions.
- Set the television back from the edge of the television stand to stabilize it. If it does fall, the edge of the stand can help break the momentum.
- Use lower television stands - the lower the TV's center of gravity, the less impact if it falls.
- Hang your flatscreen on the wall - ask for fasteners at your local appliance store.
- If your television is on a stand, fasten it to the wall with an anchor. Anchors are cheap and also readily available where TVs are sold.
Dr. Cusimano states that a television falling one meter onto a child's head is equal to that same child falling to the ground from a 10-story window. No family should have to experience the tragedy of a child's accidental death, so let's take the steps necessary to prevent this foreseeable danger in our homes.