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Children's Deaths Over TV Tipovers on the Rise

Apr 14, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP We have long written about the dangers children’s toys pose over lead contamination and choking, fall, and fire hazards, to name a few; however, it seems deaths related to television tipovers pose an increasing hazard.

KJRH reported that dozens of children are killed each year by televisions that tip over and that number is on the rise.  According to Consumer Reports, said KJRH, televisions, when they fall from a piece of furniture, for instance, pose serious, sometimes deadly dangers to children.  Typically, the accidents occur when a television is placed on furniture not meant to accommodate the TV and children use that furniture as a sort of ladder to climb to the television, said KJRH.  The situation becomes unstable and the television can fall over and crush the child.

Consumer Reports looked into how much force is needed to tip a variety of televisions placed on a dresser and found that the larger televisions were not the easiest to topple, said KJRH.  The findings prompted Consumer Reports to warn consumers not to ever place a television on a dresser or other piece of furniture not intended for a TV.  KJRH also pointed out that Consumer Reports noted that consumers should exercise caution with what television stands they use for their TVs; the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled a number of such stands.

Consumer Reports also urges consumers to place televisions “on very heavy, stable furniture that has no drawers,” said KJRH, adding that in the best case, consumers should attach the furniture to the wall or to ensure the television is pushed away from the table edge, close to the wall, regardless of the size of the set.

Earlier this month, NewsOK wrote about a two-year-old boy in Oklahoma who died after a television in his home fell on him.  The TV was sitting on top of a cabinet or dresser and was not attached to the wall.  The toddler climbed the furniture and the TV fell, with the child underneath, said NewsOK, which added that there were three incidents last year in that state that involved children being injured in similar accidents.

The CPSC Website indicates that 2005 estimates revealed that at least 3,000 children under the age of five were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms due to injuries associated with TV tipovers.   The CPSC also said that from 2000 through 2005, it received reports of 36 TV tipover and 65 furniture tipover deaths, with the vast majority—over 80 percent—involving young children.

The CPSC suggests that consumers confirm that the furniture used to hold the television is stable on its own and that the furniture be attached to the wall.  The CPSC also suggests anchoring such furniture—entertainment units, TV stands, bookcases, shelving, and bureaus—to the floor and that appropriate hardware (brackets, screws, toggles) be used.  The CPSC warns that televisions should only ever be placed “on sturdy furniture appropriate for the size of the TV or on a low-rise base”; that the television be pushed as far back as possible; and that electrical cords be placed out of the reach of children, with children taught not to play with the cords.  Also, items tempting to children—toys, remote controls—should be removed from the tops of televisions and furniture.

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