December 20, 2012

Tip over injuries continue to increase in children

Baby holding remote
(iStock photo)

Nearly 13,000 children are injured each year in the U.S. from televisions tipping over, with a child dying every three weeks, according to a report released today by Safe Kids Worldwide and SANUS.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Safe Children Program manager Sarah Haverstick said that number has increased by 31 percent over the past decade.

“While the newer TVs are lighter than the older tube TVs, they keep getting bigger and bigger. Their larger size often makes them unstable, so if they are not attached to a wall they seem to be causing just as many injuries as their older counterparts,” Haverstick said.

“It is really important that parents and caregivers think about all of the large or heavy pieces of furniture in their homes, including their TVs, while they are getting their home prepared for a curious toddler. Bookcases, large dressers, entertainment units and TVs all have the potential to be tipped over onto a child. Any of these items can easily be attached to a wall with a strap or bracket.”

The results of the report, A Report to the Nation on Home Safety: The Dangers of TV Tip-Overs, include data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and new findings from Safe Kids Worldwide primary research.

According to the research, 7 out of 10 children injured by TV tip-overs are 5 years old or younger. This age group also accounts for 9 out of 10 serious injuries requiring hospitalization, including head injuries, which are among the most severe.

“Even large pieces of furniture, such as a dresser, that seem too heavy for an adult to move can potentially tip over onto a child,” Haverstick said. “When dresser drawers are opened, the unit becomes very front heavy, making it unbalanced. To a child, those open drawers may look like the perfect staircase to reach a coveted toy, or a TV, causing even more instability.”

The report also revealed that three out of four parents don’t secure their TV to the wall.

Most families are unaware that securing a TV is an important safety measure. Others decide not to mount their TVs because of concerns about damaging the wall or installing the TV incorrectly.

Haverstick offered the following tips to keep children safe.

  • Do not place toys, stuffed animals or other items that are attractive to your child on top of furniture. Keep toys at their level to prevent children from attempting to climb up furniture to reach something.
  • ALWAYS attach furniture to the wall.  Book shelves and dressers in your child’s room should be securely attached to the wall – even if the dresser seems too big/heavy for the child to move it. Once you start opening drawers, even large dressers become very front heavy – and open drawers make for an inviting staircase for young children.
  • ALWAYS strap or mount TVs to the wall – and strap the entertainment unit to the wall as well. Large TVs are one of the biggest risks for falling onto a child.
  • If you do not mount the TV directly to the wall, consider placing it on a lower stand, still strapping the stand to the wall and then pushing the TV as far back on the stand as possible – and securely attaching the TV to the stand.
  • Always supervise children around furniture or TVs that have potential to tip over.

Straps used to attach furniture to the walls are available for purchase for $2.85 per pack (two in a pack) at the Safety Store on the second floor of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.