As 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.
• 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 . . .