TV sets are getting bigger, sales are increasing – and toppling injuries among toddlers and young children are on the rise as a result, a new study showed. Most of the injuries were preventable.
Writes Today.com: “Toronto researchers found that toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 years often suffered neck and head injuries, which could be fatal, according to the report published in the Journal of Neurosurgery Pediatrics.”
“As a hazard in the home, it’s the perfect storm,” said Dr. Michael Cusimano, a professor of neurology, education and public health at the University of Toronto and the study’s lead author. “Kids are left unsupervised around a big television that is not properly secured. And the numbers are going up. Between 2006 and 2008 there were 16,500 injuries and between 2008 and 2010 there were 19,200. If you look at the sales of these TVs there’s a parallel increase.”
Flat screen televisions certainly weigh less than the box sets of a decade or so ago, but they are also much more apt to be pulled down. From 2000 to 2013, 279 children died as a result of injuries sustained from a falling television. According to Dr. Cusimano, heavy TVs falling just one meter onto a small child’s head can be equivalent to that same child falling 10 stories.
“Injuries to children caused by falling televisions have become more frequent during the last decade,” the study’s abstract stated. “These injuries can be severe and even fatal and are likely to become even more common in the future as TVs increase in size and become more affordable.”
“I think there are things you can do to the television; things you can do to the environment; and things you can do to the kids and parents that would make everything much safer,” Cusimano says. “For example, you can have restricted play areas away from the TV if you have little kids around the home.”
“People have done the physics,” Cusimano says. “These can potentially be fatal injuries.”
According to the study, 84 percent of the injuries occurred in the home; nearly three out of every four incidents were not witnessed by the parent or caregiver. “The TVs were most commonly large and elevated off the ground. Dressers and other furniture not designed to support TVs were commonly involved in the TV-toppling incident,” the study reported.
Scott Wolfson, communications director for the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, told Today that these types of injuries are completely preventable. Most televisions come with anchoring tools. If they do not, buy some, Wolfson says.
“The solution is so simple,” he said. “There are straps that can be easily purchased to anchor to the wall. There are L-brackets and tethering devices.”
According to Wolfson, “A child dies every two weeks in this country from a tip-over incident involving a TV, a piece of furniture, or a TV and a piece of furniture. Every 24 minutes a child is admitted to the emergency room because of a TV and/or a furniture tip-over… It just takes five minutes to anchor TVs and furniture to the wall. The consequences of children playing and climbing on unstable, unanchored furniture are tragic.”