Tips to avoid tip-overs

By: Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published February 18, 2015

 Julie Kenneally and Daniel Orzechowski of Safe Kids Worldwide, demonstrate how to hang a flat-panel TV on a wall mount.

Julie Kenneally and Daniel Orzechowski of Safe Kids Worldwide, demonstrate how to hang a flat-panel TV on a wall mount.

Photo courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide

In the last decade, Safe Kids Worldwide Director of U.S. Programs Tareka Wheeler said that there has been a 31 percent increase in the number of children who have been killed or injured by TV tip-overs.

“We know we can prevent these things. Many families just don’t think about it. It’s an emerging issue — we call it a hidden hazard — in homes, but there are simple things families can do,” Wheeler said.

Currently, she said, 13,000 children are injured each year due to tip-overs, which equates to a child’s death every three weeks and a child’s injury approximately every 45 minutes.

Many of the tip-over accidents, Wheeler said, are because flat-panel TVs are not properly mounted or secured to the wall, or CRT TVs — the older, box-style TVs — are placed in an unsafe location, most commonly on a high, unstable piece of furniture.

She said 41 percent of households report having at least one CRT TV in the home.

The first thing families can do, she said, is to place CRT TVs on low, stable pieces of furniture that are appropriate for the size and weight of the TV.

Oftentimes, families who purchase newer flat-panel TVs move their old CRT TVs to other rooms and place them on dressers or high furniture, possibly for use with game consoles, DVD players or VCRs.

The second thing families can do, Wheeler said, is to secure flat-panel TVs to the wall using equipment — either straps or mounts — that has the proper safety certifications and has been tested by an independent laboratory.

Thirdly, Wheeler said, parents with unwanted CRT TVs should recycle them. The website www.greenergadgets.com can find certified recyclers in the community via ZIP code.

Shelby Township’s Solid Waste and Recycling Committee also hosts a free electronics recycling program for the public at the municipal grounds, located at 52700 Van Dyke Ave., south of 24 Mile Road, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. the last Saturday of each month, except December. The event is open to residents of any community. The next event will take place Feb. 28. For more information, visit www.shelbytwp.org/recycle.

“It’s not just about TVs, but also about furniture and appliances,” Wheeler said. “It is important for parents to secure furniture using brackets and straps, use child safety devices and to not make furniture top-heavy — especially dressers.”

Wheeler said she did not know why tip-over accidents are becoming more frequent, but that they are preventable, so it is important for parents to take precautionary steps to avoid tragedy.

“The majority of the instances happen to children 5 years old and younger,” she said. “Seven out of 10 children injured by TV tip-overs in the study we released were 5 years and younger.”

Jim Swinkowski, Shelby Township fire chief, said his department does get calls because children get injured in tip-over accidents, but that he could not pinpoint the frequency of the accidents because they are simply entered into the system as “emergency medical runs.”

“Kids will climb and grab what they can grab, especially at 18 months when they are just learning to walk and using end tables, coffee tables (for support). … They’ll just grab them and pull them down.”

Swinkowski said the most common child accidents the Fire Department experiences are when younger children roll off beds or fall off counters.

For more information about child safety, visit www.safekids.org.