Keep children safe from falling TVs

The count is now up to four. Since October, four children in the Chicago area have died from having TVs fall on them. The latest fatality was a 1-year-old, who bumped into an aquarium stand on which sat an older TV. It fell and fractured his skull.

In Janaury, four-year-old Gianna Hadjis was playing in her University Park home when a tube-style television tipped off of a table and fell on her, crushing her to death.

According to a 2011 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 169 children died from injuries caused by falling TVs between 2000 and 2010.

These tragedies emphasize the importance of understanding the causes of TV tip-overs and how to avoid them.

“People aren’t aware of how common tip-overs are,” said commission spokesman Alex Filip. “It’s terrible that every two weeks a child dies from some sort of furniture tip-over.”

The primary tip-over hazard occurs when large, old-fashioned tube TVs are placed on furniture that is too small or unstable, Filip said.

TVs topple when kids bump into the furniture while playing or climb onto the furniture to retrieve remote controls and toys, he said.

To prevent accidents during scenarios like these, the commission urges parents to secure televisions to the wall with anchoring devices such as safety straps.

Safety straps are strips of nylon fabric that attach to the back of the TV and anchor into the studs of the wall with screws. They are available through online retailers such as leapsandbounds.com for as little as $6.95, although often hard to find at local retailers. Target, Walmart and Best Buy all said they had none when a reporter called.

The price is “extremely inexpensive, considering the cost of one accident,” Filip said.

The technological progression from big box televisions to flat screens is contributing to household safety, according to David Davis, owner of Davis Audio and Video on N. Oakley Avenue in Chicago. Flat screens can be mounted on walls, enabling families to avoid the hazard of unstable furniture altogether, he said.

“Most, if not all, wall mounts have a safety latch on them so that you cannot inadvertently pull the TV off the wall,” he said.

For those who don’t want their flat-screens wall-mounted, proper TV stands can also be a safe option, Davis said.

“If you’re going to put a TV on a stand, you have to make sure the stand can support the weight,” he said.

Parents should also set the TV as far back as possible on the stand and push the stand up against the wall for additional support, he said.

As an extra precaution, the safety commission recommends parents use safety straps even with flat screens.

“Because it is tall and subject to tip over, there will continue to be incidents,” Filip said.

This article is courtesys of the Medill News Service

This article, first published on Jan. 23, was updated on Feb. 9. 
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