By: Kathleen Berchelmann M.D., FAAP
TVs that are unstably mounted often fall on industrious toddlers trying to reach them. According to the study, "Television-Related Injuries to Children in the United States, 1990–2011," published in the August 2013 issue of Pediatrics, the rate of pediatric injuries caused by falling TVs is increasing– about 12,300 injuries among U.S. children under age 18 in 2011, up 126% from 5,455 injuries in 1990.
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Why Are Falling TV Injuries and Deaths On the Rise?
I figured it was the prevalence of larger TVs over the past several years. But surprisingly, according to the new findings, small TVs aren't necessarily less likely to cause injuries. In 69% of the cases where TV size was documented, the screen was less than 26 inches. The study's author hypothesized that when families buy larger TVs, they often move the old TV to a bedroom or basement. The old TV is often unstably mounted on a dresser, entertainment center, or nightstand. Toddlers are tempted to climb on the furniture to reach the TV, causing the TV and/or furniture to topple on them. Dressers seem to be especially dangerous, as kids can pull out a drawer to use as an unstable step to get to the TV.
Most of the overturned TVs fell off a dresser or armoire (46%), an entertainment center or TV stand (31%) or a table or nightstand (8.8%).
Kids under age 5 represented 64% of all injured patients; boys accounted for 61%.
The most common injuries were lacerations (37%) and soft tissue injuries (35%). The injuries most often affected the head and neck region (63%).
How to Prevent Death and Injury From Falling TVs and Furniture in Your Home:
We can't stop our toddlers from climbing. We can stabilize the things they climb on.
All TVs should be firmly mounted to a wall or a piece of furniture. You can buy wall-mounting kits for most TVs, including older CRT models as well as newer flat-screen TVs. Also, consider simply using screws to secure the base of your TV to a piece of furniture.
Dressers, bookcases, mirrors, and other pieces of furniture should be secured to the wall, preferably with dry-wall screws into a stud. I hesitated to put screws through the back of an antique oak bookcase my grandfather had refinished for me… until my 2 year-old started to climb on it, and I caught it mid-fall.
Avoid storing tempting electronics such as iPads, DVDs, and TVs/remotes on or above furniture you don't want your kids to climb on. Don't store these things over kitchen stoves, either.
A quick internet search will provide multiple YouTube videos and other how-to articles on how to secure your TV or furniture to a wall.
About Dr. Berchelmann:
Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician at Mercy Children's Hospital, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Missouri School of Medicine, and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kathleen and her husband are raising six children.