Modern flat-screen televisions are far lighter than the cathode ray tube sets that were sold in Illinois and around the country for decades, but they are still heavy enough to be deadly. Some of the large flat-screens used in home theater systems weigh almost 100 pounds when mounted on their stands, which is heavy enough to kill or seriously injure a young child. Tip-over accidents happen when children grab unstable furniture to pull themselves up, and they are worryingly common.
Emergency room visits
According to a study published in January 2021 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 11,300 children are rushed to emergency rooms each year after being injured in tip-over accidents. In about three-quarters of these incidents, the item that fell on the injured child was a television set. Accidents involving television sets claimed 354 lives in the United States between 2000 and 2019, and a young child was the victim 95% of the time. These accidents usually occur when televisions are placed on top of dressers or stands that are not wide enough to support them safely, and the events unfold so quickly that even nearby parents are rarely able to intervene.
Preventing tip-over accidents
Parents who wish to prevent tip-over accidents should wall-mount their television sets using hardware specially designed for the job. When this is not possible and a dresser or stand must be used, parents should check defective product recalls to make sure that the furniture they buy is safe. The cables running from television sets to wall outlets or other electronic devices can also cause serious household accidents, so they should be kept well out of the reach of children.
Consumer products manufacturers and the government agencies that regulate them tend to react to safety issues quickly when a specific defect in a single product or group of products causes harm, but they are slower to respond to basic design flaws that make an entire class of products less safe than they could be. Thousands of children being treated every year for serious injuries suffered in preventable accidents should be enough to convince furniture makers and the CPSC that stronger tip-over standards are required.