Televisions & Your Child: The Shocking New Danger

A television sitting on an entertainment stand in the living room99% of U.S. households own at least one television, and 55% have three or more. Could these common fixtures of American homes be putting your children’s lives in danger?

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More than 17,000 children are treated annually for television-related injuries, and at least one child is sent to the emergency room every half hour, according to a study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, police in San Antonio recently reported that a child died after a television accidentally fell on him.

The reason for the accidents? Flat-screen televisions have mostly taken the place of its larger, bulkier, heavier predecessors. The problem is the since these new televisions are lighter, it’s easier for them to tip over.

“Lighter weights coupled with a less bulky design may make flat panels more easily tipped than CRTs (cathode ray tube) and may be contributing to the observed increase in the rate of injuries associated with falling TVs,” the authors of the study wrote.

Nearly half of the injuries — 46 percent — were from a television sliding off a dresser, while 31 percent were from a television falling off an entertainment center or TV stand, the study found.

The most common injuries from television accidents are lacerations, concussions and soft tissue injuries, according to the study, while children younger than 5 years old, particularly boys, were the most likely to be injured.

What can parents do?

To help prevent potential accidents and injuries, researchers recommend that parents secure their televisions to help prevent children from tipping them over. In addition, remote controls and toys should not be placed on top of televisions or the furniture they sit on, which will help prevent children from being tempted to climb on them.

“The type of furniture involved is implicated more,” the authors of the study say. “We suspect that as parents purchase a new TV, and now that tends to be a flat screen, the older TV gets moved to another part of the home, often placed in an unsafe position, such as on a dresser or bureau, which was never designed to support a TV. Children can pull dresser drawers open to use as stairs to help them reach the TV, potentially pulling both the dresser and TV over on top of them. That’s why we’re telling parents that it’s very important if they purchase a TV that it must be anchored to the wall, whether it’s a flat screen or a CRT, and the furniture should be designed to support it, and it should be anchored to the wall as well.”

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