Home and Community Safety & Health Safety

TV, furniture tip-overs send a child to an ER every 46 minutes: study

Photo: Halfpoint/iStockphoto

Columbus, OH — TV or furniture tip-overs resulting in a child needing emergency care occurred every 46 minutes in the United States in 2019, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which includes information on product-, sports- or recreation-related injuries treated in emergency rooms, researchers found that an estimated 560,200 children were treated for injuries resulting from TV or furniture tip-overs over the past three decades. Children younger than 6 accounted for 70% of the injuries, and nearly half of all the injuries were to the head or neck.

In a press release, the hospital contends that current voluntary safety standards for clothing storage units are inadequate because they use a body weight that’s less than that of a typical 6-year-old. Additionally, the standards are based on stability tests performed on hard, level and flat surfaces, “even though most CSUs are placed on carpet in the home.” They also don’t account for potential yanking or bouncing by a child opening doors or drawers, along with multiple drawers being opened at the same time and drawers that are filled with clothes.

In July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a proposed rule that addresses these concerns. A month earlier, the House passed the STURDY Act (H.R. 1314), which would direct CPSC to develop safety standards aimed at protecting children from clothing storage units tip-overs. A companion bill (S. 441) was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in February.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers tips to help prevent TV and furniture tip-overs:

  • Secure furniture such as dressers, bookcases and entertainment centers to the wall. Using furniture safety straps or L-brackets, anchor your furniture to the wall as soon as you bring it into your home.
  • Mount TVs to the wall when possible.
  • Place TVs on appropriate furniture and anchor both to the wall. If your TV is on a piece of furniture, make sure you use a TV or entertainment stand specifically designed for this purpose and for the size of your TV.
  • Keep all objects off TVs and furniture. Remote controls, toys and other items shouldn’t be placed on top of a TV or the furniture supporting it because this may encourage climbing by young children.

“Some families may not think that heavy furniture or TVs can tip over, but they do, and when this happens, the injuries can be very serious and even life-threatening,” Smith said. “It only takes a few seconds for a child to pull out a drawer to climb up, causing a tip-over. By taking a few minutes now to anchor furniture and TVs in your home, you can help prevent these injuries from happening to the children in your life.”

The study was published online Aug. 27 in the journal Injury Epidemiology.

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