Large TVs Could Mean High-Definition Danger
How to make sure kids aren’t injured by falling flat-screen televisions.
Many of us want to have the biggest, sharpest television on the market. Nowadays, having a flat-screen TV is almost a necessity — we simply must see the football game or that new episode of our favorite TV series in high-definition. But with big TVs comes an increased risk to your little ones. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, nearly 18,000 children in the United States were injured from a falling TV or TV stand in 2015.
John Drengenberg, consumer safety director at UL, has studied the issue of television safety for many years. “These flatscreens are becoming so large that any tipping could cause injury,” he says. With that in mind, Drengenberg offered up these safety recommendations for securing your televisions.
- Make sure the furniture that holds the TV is secure. “Don’t place televisions on furniture that is unstable,” Drengenberg says. “Nothing that’s rickety.” The manufacturer of the flat-screen TV you buy should have a secure stand to hold the unit on shelving or the entertainment unit. Make sure you use one built specifically for your new TV — don’t use an old stand built for a different unit. Another idea: Attach a strap (pictured, right) from the back of the TV to the wall. That practice is especially popular in earthquake-prone areas like California.
- Secure older TVs, too. Another problem with the rise of flatscreens: Where to put those clunky, older TVs. “What really seems to exacerbate the whole issue is when flat-screen TVs came into being, the older CRT (cathode ray tube) televisions were relegated to other parts of the home, rather than on the main home entertainment unit in the living room or the family room,” Drengenberg says. That means many older, heavier TVs might be placed on older dressers or shelves — furniture not meant to hold that weight. If you do move an old TV into your kids’ room, make sure it’s secure.
- Use a wall mount with your flatscreen. “There are many UL-certified wall mounts,” Drengenberg says. “If you have one of these gigantic televisions, it might be best to mount it on the wall in the proper wall-mount bracket.” This solution requires a little more work — you’ll have to find a stud in your wall, drill multiple holes, and install the anchors — but saving your child from potential injury is worth it.
- Warn children never to climb the TV storage unit. “Be it a flatscreen or an old–style CRT television, caution children that they should never, ever climb up or near the television,” Drengenberg says. His research found that parents often would leave the remote control or toys or candy on top of the TV or entertainment unit, giving smaller kids a challenge and incentive to climb. Drengenberg notes that, especially in the case of CRT TVs, it’s more likely that the furniture would tip — not the TV — causing the whole unit to tumble down.
- Hide the cables. “The cables that are inevitably attached to the television to bring in Blu–ray signals or cable signals or whatnot, some folks don’t route them carefully,” Drengenberg says. “They might be in the front of the television, allowing the child to pull on those cables and cause the TV to topple down.” If possible, put the cables underneath the storage unit or put them out of sight.
- Secure your TV, even if you don’t have kids. “If you’re a grandparent or if you have people over or are hosting parties, televisions should be anchored as if you had your own kids,” Drengenberg says.