Accident and injury attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight a recent article by the American Academy of Pediatrics which found that over 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms every year for television-related injuries. That number averages out to one child sent to the ER every thirty minutes.
In fact, the number of children injured by TVs has nearly doubled in the past twenty years, due in no small part to the popularity of flat-screen TVs replacing bulkier sets. Flat screens are more easily tipped than bulkier-designed televisions, and with more than half of American households owning three or more televisions, hospital visits seem to only be increasing.
The study also stated that older TVs are often placed in more arbitrary, less-safe locations in the home, such as on unstable furniture or dressers. Among the most often-seen injuries from television falls include concussions, soft tissue injuries, and lacerations. Children younger than five years old – and particularly males – were most likely to be injured.
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About half of all injuries were sustained when a TV fell from a dresser, while a little more than 30% were from a TV falling from an entertainment center or TV stands. Researchers recommend parents adequately secure televisions in order to combat this troubling phenomenon and teach children the dangers of touching or playing near entertainment systems.
Parents are also advised never to put remote controls, toys or food or drinks on top of televisions, or anything else children would be tempted to reach up and grab. Just about a week ago, in late July 2013, a three-year-old in San Antonio, Texas was killed when a television fell from a dresser onto him. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, however, was pronounced dead just an hour after the accident. In June 2013, a four-year-old boy from Oregon was seriously injured when a 36-inch TV fell on top of him and rendered him unconscious.
Though most incidents occur when the televisions fall, more than 35% are due to children running into the units, and nearly 10% are caused by other situations, such as when TVs are moved from one location to another. Researchers noted that TVs need to be strapped or anchored to the wall, and never placed on a piece of furniture that was not designed to support TVs.
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Experts and advocates hope pediatricians soon take a more active stance on the issue as more education and public knowledge improves as well. Others think there needs to be increased legislation or regulation for televisions, so it is required they be strapped or anchored when brought into the home.
The new study may even significantly underestimate the actual number of TV-related injuries to children, as it only captured injuries recorded in emergency rooms. Other, less severe injuries could have been treated at home or in pediatrician’s offices.
Since 2000, more than 245 children have died from tipped-over TVs, though parents remain largely unaware of the danger. Televisions can weigh anywhere between 50 and 400 pounds, which can easily crush young children who are also unaware of the dangers and fail to get out of the way.
In Chicago alone last year, four children died in a four-month period after TVs fell on top of them, prompting public outcry and calls for increased safety measures and awareness. Advocates urge parents to refrain from putting TVs on furniture that have drawers, while others opine that requiring retailers to sell safety straps or mounting brackets along with TVs would reduce the rates of injury and death. He likens the requirement to driving in a car with seatbelts, asking why parents wouldn’t drive in a car without seatbelts but would have their child around large furniture that’s not anchored down. Some organizations like Charlie’s House in Missouri give out safety straps for furniture and TV for free, to spread awareness.
Child injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on issues concerning childhood injuries and preventable deaths. We have decades of experience advocating on behalf of children injured by defective or dangerous products, and offer free, no-obligation consultations at any time of day or night.