Virtually everyone has a TV set, and who knew how much of a safety risk it is for kids.
More than 17,000 children, or one child every 30 minutes, are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year for a TV-related injury, according to a study published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics. And the parts of their body they injured most was their head and neck.
Injuries caused by tipped-over, falling TVs accounted for 12,300 injuries among children under age 18 in 2011, a 125 percent increase from the number in 1990, according to the study. Almost half – 46 percent – occurred from a TV falling off a dresser or armoire, with another 31 percent falling from an entertainment center or TV stand.
Children under age 5 represented 64.3 percent of all injured patients, and boys accounted for 60.8 percent of cases, according to the research.
The head/neck was the most common body region injured, 63.3 percent, followed by the legs, 21.5 percent.
The study’s authors correctly determined that there should be safety measures imposed to stop TVs from tipping over and crushing small kids.
“Safety anchors or anti-tip devices should be provided with every television at the time of purchase and through distribution programs along with educational materials,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in its description of the research. “Manufacturers should redesign TVs to improve stability, and parents should be advised not to put remote controls or toys on top of a TV, which can potentially result in a tip-over if a child tries to climb and reach them.
A story in the Chicago Tribune pointed out that older, bulky second TV sets are sometimes put on top of dressers or other places where they can easily top. The article also said that the study was prompted by a series of fatal accidents where TV sets fell and killed children.
That Tribune story quoted the study’s lead author, Dr. Gary Smith, who is president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance. Smith noted that during a period of less than four months in 2011 and 2012 four Chicago-area kids were killed were killed by falling TV sets, and a fifth was hurt, according to the Tribune. That’s one of the major reasons why he embarked on that study.
The newspaper also did a heartbreaking interview with the mother of one of the children who was killed. That family had bought a flat-screen TV and put the old, heavy one in the basement. The woman’s 4-year-old daughter tipped it over, and it crushed her.
The bottom line is this: All TV sets, even flat-screen ones, need to be securely anchored for everyone’s safety.