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Parents of toddlers painstakingly baby proof cabinets and wall sockets, but one household item that is causing more frequent injuries to children these days and needs securing is the television. Toppling big screen TVs, including wall mounted ones, are injuring and even killing more small children than before.
Accidents involving today’s larger, thinner TVs are escalating. They have become more common as television sets increase in size and big screens become more affordable, according to research in the latest edition of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics that was conducted to develop safety guidelines and in the hope of educating caregivers.
“These injuries are increasing around the world,” noted the study’s lead researcher Dr. Michael Cusimano, from the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He encouraged people to be aware of the hazard and that “a TV can crush a child.”
Between 2011 and 2013, more than 15,000 children eacb year on average went to emergency rooms for injuries involving television sets, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This is a considerable increase over the 2008 to 2010 period, when TVs hurt only 19,200 children in America. There have reportedly been 279 deaths related to such incidents between 2000 and 2013.
To formulate guidelines for preventing injuries to more children from toppling TVs, Cusimano and colleague Nadine Parker, from Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, reviewed data on injuries related to the issue. The authors searched through 29 medical studies that looked at head injuries to children ages 0 to 18 within seven countries. They also looked at any information on the factors that contributed to the injuries to strategize ways to prevent them.
The analysis showed that 84 percent of the reported injuries occurred at home, and adult caregivers did not witness approximately three-fourths of them. In most situations, the TVs were large and situated off the ground. However, dressers and other furniture not specifically designed to hold a TV were commonly involved in the accidents.
“TVs are often placed on unstable bases, placed on high furniture like dressers, which aren’t designed for TVs, or not properly secured to the wall,” explained Cusimano. He noted that busy parents do not have time to constantly supervise children, “so it’s not surprising that these injuries are getting reported more often.”
Almost all of the fatalities were due to brain injuries. Toddlers between 1 and 3 years of age were those most affected, generally because of head or neck injuries.
Television-falling injuries can be easily prevented. Some recommendations the CPSC has made to protect more children from toppling TVs injuring them include:
- Do not allow children to play in the area around the television and keep toys or other things that attract children out of the area.
- Once they are old enough to understand, tell children about the dangers of toppling televisions so they understand the reasons for not climbing up on furniture under or near them.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions when mounting a set to the wall.
- If the set is not designed to be mounted on the wall, put it on a proper TV stand or entertainment center designed for such equipment, not on top of other types of furniture. In addition, position the set as far back from the edge as possible.
- Lastly, make sure small children are supervised.
Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss
Reuters: Protect your kids from falling flat-screen TVs, researchers warn
Journal of Neurosurgery- Pediatrics: Toppled television sets and head injuries in the pediatric population: a framework for prevention
U.S. News & World Report: Toppling TVs a Risk to Kids
Globe and Mail: Toppled flat-screen TVs causing injuries and deaths in kids: study
Photo courtesy of Julian Tysoe’s Flickr page – Creative Commons license