Published On: October 28, 2013

How To Keep Your Child Safe From a TV Tip-Over

Published On: October 28, 2013
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How To Keep Your Child Safe From a TV Tip-Over

With modern HDTVs getting bigger and thinner, there is also the potential for them to be less safe as well. Adrienne Maxwell takes a look at different ways to make sure your TV is secure and safe.

How To Keep Your Child Safe From a TV Tip-Over

By Author: Adrienne Maxwell
Adrienne Maxwell is the former Managing Editor of HomeTheaterReview.com, Home Theater Magazine, and HDTVEtc.com. Adrienne has also written for Wirecutter, Home Entertainment Magazine, AVRev.com, ModernHomeTheater.com, and other top specialty audio/video publications. She is an ISF Level II-certified video calibrator who specializes in reviews of flat-panel HDTVs, front video projectors, video screens, video servers, and video source devices, both disc- and streaming-based.

ID-100232719.jpgAs I was walking the show floor at CEDIA last month, my attention was drawn to a section of the SANUS booth dedicated to TV safety. SANUS has partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide and created the website called TVSafety.org to educate people on the danger of improperly secured flat-panel TVs. As both a TV reviewer and mother of a four-year-old, this topic hits close to home, and I think it's a worthwhile endeavor to help them spread the word.

Additional Resources

• Read more original stories like this in our Feature News Stories section.
• See more LED HDTV news from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore reviews in our Racks and Stands Review section.

You might be surprised to learn just how serious an issue this has become. According to a study released this summer by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of children injured by a TV tip-over has increased 125 percent between 1990 and 2011. Each year, more than 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for TV-related injuries. That's one child every 30 minutes, and children ages five and younger are at the highest risk for injury. While some of these injuries are minor cuts, scrapes, bumps, and bruises, more serious injuries like broken bones and organ damage have also been reported. The most alarming statistic of all is that, once every three weeks, a child is killed by a TV tip-over. 96 percent of those reported deaths were children under the age of 10. If you need a few more statistics, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has done its own research and found that 2011 saw the highest number of deaths due to TV and furniture tip-overs, with falling TVs representing 62 percent of those deaths.

Flat-panel TVs have certainly transformed our homes. Thinner, lighter panels and rapidly falling price tags have allowed us to add much larger screen sizes all around the house. But the thin form and lighter weight that make these TVs so appealing is the very thing that makes them so much easier to tip over. As someone who has set up my fair share of large-screen panels, I often question the stability of the supplied TV stands, which is why my daughter is not allowed in the home theater when unsecured review samples are set up. These new edge-lit LED/LCD panels may feel like feathers compared with the CRTS of yore, but the average weight of a flat-panel TV is still 50 pounds. And if you think that you don't have to worry as much about the smaller TV on the bedroom dresser as you do about the 60-inch panel in the living room, the AAP report actually states that over 60 percent of the reported injuries were caused by TVs 27 inches or smaller. The CPSC report theorizes that, as people purchase new flat panels, those older heavier CRTs get moved to the bedroom, where they're placed up on dressers and are seldom properly secured to anything. Forty percent of those 2011 TV deaths occurred in a bedroom.

Look, we can't protect our kids from everything. Accidents will happen, but why increase the odds within your own home when TV (and general furniture) tip-overs are so easily preventable? The CPSC recommends the following steps to properly secure furniture in your home:

* Anchor furniture to the wall or the floor. Safety 1st is a popular manufacturer of safety products for children, and the company sells furniture wall straps for as little at $5. QuakeHOLD! also sells furniture safety straps at hardware stores like Home Depot.

* Place TVs on sturdy, low bases and push the TV as far back on the furniture as possible.

* Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children off of TV stands or furniture.

* Keep TV and/or cable cords out of the reach of children.

* Make sure free-standing kitchen ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.

* Supervise children in rooms where these safety tips have not been followed.

Click on over to Page 2 to learn about the importance of properly securing your Flat Panel TV . . .

Making-TVs-Kid-Safe-small.jpgWhen talking specifically about TVs, one of the infographics I saw estimated that only one-quarter of adults make the effort to properly secure their flat-panel TVs. There are several easy ways to do this. Not surprisingly, SANUS and TVSafety.org recommend the use of a wall-mount, and there's certainly no shortage of models from which to choose. SANUS doesn't recommend one particular style of mount as being safer than the others, but the company does stress the importance of purchasing a mount that has been tested to UL standards, the most current of which is called UL 2442. Beyond UL listing, Sanus Marketing Communications Manager Lauren Theobald recommends that shoppers "look at quality of lag bolts and secondary locking mechanisms, such as with our full-motion mounts, where we have a lever that you push to the left to double-lock the mount down. And always, the easier the installation of the mount, the easier it is to get it right."

The truth is, many people seem to shy away from the use of wall-mounts because they think the mounts are too hard to install, and there's a legitimate concern that putting a TV in an improperly installed mount is just as dangerous, if not more so, as setting it on a TV stand. The major TV-mount manufacturers - including SANUS, Chief, and OmniMount - often include installation videos on their websites for some or all of their mounts. Sites like Cruchfield and Home Depot offer step-by-step tutorials. YouTube is a great resource to see videos of TV-mount installations. Ultimately, if you don't trust your own installation skills, hire someone else to do it for you, be it a local custom installer, Best Buy's Geek Squad,
or a trusted friend with some construction experience. If you're still in the TV shopping phase, factor the wall-mount installation cost into your budget. If the TV is already in place, maybe your child's safety is worth sacrificing a month's worth of pumpkin spice lattes (I know, they're really good) to pony up for a basic mount and installation service.

For those who live in apartments or are simply unable/unwilling to drill into walls, another option is a Furniture Mount System. Many new equipment stands include the option to add TV-mounting hardware that attaches to back of the stand. Or, if you already have a stand, you can buy an add-on bracket that will hold the TV securely in place without forcing you to go into the wall. Sanus offers an FMS kit, as does Init.

The least expensive solution is to use TV wall straps, similar to the furniture wall straps I discussed earlier. These straps won't hold the TV securely in one position the way a mount can, but they will at least prevent the TV from falling over and off the stand. KidCo's Anti-Tip TV Strap sells for about $10, QuakeHOLD!'s 4520 Safety Strap is about $25 on Amazon, and Sanus' ELM701 Anti-Tip Strap sells for about $15. If your TV is inside a cabinet or armoire, make sure to secure the TV to the cabinet and then secure the cabinet to the wall for an extra measure of safety.

So, my fellow videophile-parents, the moment of truth. Take a good look around that home of yours. Not just the theater room, but every room in the house. Have you taken a few simple steps to protect your children from the potential dangers of our hobby? If not, what are you waiting for?

Additional Resources
• Read more original stories like this in our Feature News Stories section.
• See more LED HDTV news from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore reviews in our Racks and Stands Review section.

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