Recently, an 11-month-old infant died when his 2-year-old brother bumped into the furniture holding the family’s television, causing it to fall and crush the infant’s head and abdomen. Although this seems like a rare occurrence, over 43,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year for injuries related to the instability of televisions, furniture, and appliances. Around 58 percent of the injuries involve children under the age of 18. Of the 293 reported fatalities occurring during the last decade, 245 tip-over-related deaths involved children 8 years old and younger. More than 90 percent of these fatal incidents involve children 5 years old and younger. The majority of these fatalities occur when the child is crushed by the weight of the television or furniture.
The most common tip-over scenarios involve toddlers who have climbed onto, fallen against, or pulled themselves up on furniture. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has investigated over 135 child fatalities where furniture fell by itself or with a television. The CPSC has issued safety tips for parents to implement in order to better “child-proof” their homes. These include anchoring the furniture to the wall or floor, placing televisions on sturdy bases, keeping cords and cables out of reach of children, and supervising children in rooms where there is a possibility for a tip-over.
Similarly, the CPSC has warned the nation’s teachers not to allow children to move or play near television or audiovisual carts because they can tip over and kill children. In several fatal incidents, a teacher asked a young student (ranging in age from 7 to 11) to move a cart to another room. The cart overturned when it hit a child’s foot or a threshold, causing serious injuries to the child. Stationary carts also pose a danger, as in one recently reported incident, a young girl suffered permanent brain damage when she climbed on a cart and the cart and TV fell on her. Teachers and school administrators are advised to not allow children to move television or audiovisual carts because of these risks of injuries.