Flat-screen TVs are a major safety concern that parents tend to overlook when they childproof their homes. As a result, more and more children are ending up in hospital emergency rooms with injuries caused by falling furniture, according to a study cited by MSNBC. It's also important to take safety precautions with the stands that TV sets rest on. The consequences of a TV falling on a baby or toddler can be very serious. However, awareness, safety devices and common sense can prevent these injuries.
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The number of young children who are hurt by falling TVs has increased dramatically since flat screens became popular. While most injuries are minor, serious outcomes including broken bones, head trauma, neck injuries and deaths have occurred in significant numbers. Unfortunately, there is not as much awareness of this issue as there should be.
Unlike older styles of television sets, flat screens are very top-heavy. They have bases that are narrow, lightweight and flimsy, considering the number of pounds they support. The design means that relatively small amounts of force can cause flat screens to topple. Babies, toddlers and young children don't understand the possible consequences of climbing and pulling on large pieces of furniture. Most people don't set up their flat-screen TVs according to the manufacturer's safety instructions.
Safety devices can help prevent injuries caused by flat-screen TVs. Parents should attach their televisions to walls or other stable structures. This can be done with sturdy brackets, safety straps or mounts that are made specifically for flat screens. If your TV stand has drawers, cabinets or shelves under the set, take steps to prevent the child from climbing. Install safety latches so the doors can't be opened. Tall TV stands should also be attached to the wall.
Read the manual for your flat-screen TV and follow any instructions for safety. Make sure that all TVs in the home are assembled correctly. If the flat screen is on a stand, the furniture should be sturdy and have a wide base. Don't tempt babies by putting things that might capture their interest, such as toys, near the TV. Teach children to not touch the stand or screen, and keep an eye on them in case they do. Place the TV toward the back of the stand.
Keep in mind that a flat-screen TV doesn't need to be huge in order to cause serious injury to a baby or toddler. Even small models are very heavy when compared to the weight of an infant. They can easily be knocked over and trap a young child. In a home with children, even small flat-screen TVs should be secured so they can't fall.
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