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Flat-screen televisions

child watching tv

The issue

Sales of flat-screen televisions have increased in recent years. With this increase in popularity, RoSPA is raising awareness of the risks of such televisions, particularly the danger posed by the possibility of children pulling televisions over on top of themselves.

USA experience

A study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, USA, found that from 1990-2007, an average of nearly 15,000 under-18s visited emergency departments annually for injuries received from furniture "tip-overs".

According to the study, which was published in an American paediatrics journal (Clinical Pediatrics) in 2009, three-quarters of injuries occurred among children under the age of seven years and nearly half resulted from televisions tipping over. More than a quarter of the injuries happened when children pulled over or climbed on furniture. The study found that there was more than a 40 per cent increase in furniture tip-over injuries during the study period, and that the injury rate also rose.

From time to time, RoSPA believes it is important to raise awareness of the potential for accidents to happen before an injury trend emerges in the UK. In this instance, we have taken note of the findings of US research which studied a huge number of furniture tip-over cases from an 18-year period. Not only did the research find that the number of such injuries had increased, but that televisions were the most commonly-involved item of furniture.

Information and advice

The UK's own home accident database was closed in 2002, before the surge in flat-screen television popularity. However, data from the last year of the system reveals that around 9,300 people had to go to hospital after television-related home accidents, of which 2,300 were children under the age of five years. The most common television-related accident involving under-fives was being struck by a falling television set.

In the UK since July 2008, RoSPA is aware of eight reported fatalities in which babies and young children have died as a result of televisions falling on them.

Leading suppliers of child safety products can provide information on anti-tip furniture straps that can be fitted to televisions. RoSPA urges all stockists of safety equipment to make anti-tip straps easily available, so parents can ensure their furniture is stable.

To prevent children being injured in television-related accidents, RoSPA advises that:

  • Free-standing, flat-screen televisions are placed on a wide, stable, manufacturer's base (designed to accompany the television), which reduces the risk of the screen toppling forwards
  • Anti-tip straps are fitted. These are now available from leading suppliers of child safety products in the UK, and are an easy, inexpensive and effective way of ensuring that your flat-screen television stays safely upright. Straps are designed to be attached to the rear of flat-screen televisions (and other types of furniture) and then tethered securely to brackets fixed to the wall
  • Children are kept out of the way while bulky, heavy objects such as televisions are being moved
  • Toddlers are discouraged from pulling themselves up by holding on to a television set or furniture on which a television sits.

If you are hanging your flat-screen television on a wall, take care to ensure it is fitted to a solid wall. Where internal walls are made of plasterboard, fixing brackets should be attached to underlying wooden studs. If in any doubt about this, use the services of a skilled tradesperson. Always check and follow the manufacturer's instructions for additional information about hanging your television on the wall.

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