It’s nearing the end of summer but — like every year — we’re seeing the annual rise in children’s injuries and deaths. The most common causes remain drowning (#1), followed by bike accidents, falls and motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents.
Now added to this mix is a frightening increase in the number of children who are injured at home by falling TVs. You may wonder, how does that happen?
For one, the number of TVs per household is increasing. Where does the old boxy set go after you get your shiny new flat screen? Probably up on any old bookshelf or dresser — maybe a bit more out-of-sight and parental supervision. What’s more, furniture with drawers can represent a great “ladder” — toddlers pull out the drawers and step into them — putting themselves more at risk with every step.
Children under age five are most likely to be injured in this way; two-thirds of the cases involve boys. But it’s not just toddlers and preschoolers. Kids up to age 17 have been involved in these kinds of accidents.
Head injuries such as a concussion or skull fracture and neck injuries are the most common types suffered (especially in children younger than five), followed by leg injuries.
So, what can a parent do to avoid such accidents?
1. Anchor it. Bolt both the TV and the furniture that is underneath it to the wall (you can buy fasteners at home construction or electronic stores).
2. Use the right base. Keep TVs off of dressers, armoires and bookshelves not intended to house these electronics; they are more at risk of toppling.
3. Keep it low. Children like to climb on furniture. If you keep all TVs on sturdy, low bases, you remove much of the incentive to climb.
Like many parents, you’ve probably given little thought to where you park those heavy old TV sets. Take the steps today to keep your children safe from this surprising safety hazard.
You may want to go to charlieshouse.org for more information and resources on how to protect these injuries from occurring in your home.
A. Gabriel Schfiman, DO, FAAP, FACEP
Pediatric Emergency Department
Overland Park Regional Medical Center