By Kim Smiley
Nearly all parents know about the dangers of watching too much television, but a new study shows that too few are aware of the risk of injury from televisions. The number of television injuries is more than most would guess with more than 17,000 children visiting emergency rooms for television related injuries each year. Falling televisions have also caused hundreds of deaths with 29 killed in just 2011. The rate of injuries associated with televisions is also increasing at an alarming pace, jumping 126% since 1990.
The majority of victims were young children under five. The accidents seem to be a potentially deadly combination of their lack of situational awareness and unanchored televisions set on unsafe surfaces. The study didn’t include why the televisions were in unsafe locations, but one theory is that many older televisions are moved into secondary locations that aren’t as safe as families acquire bigger, fancier televisions. The older televisions may be on dressers or night stands that were never meant to hold televisions. Children climb the furniture either attempting to turn on the television or retrieve something off the top and the television tumbles down on top of them. Dressers with drawers are particularly dangerous because children may figure out how to use the drawers as steps and manage to climb much higher than anticipated.
The rapid rate of technological advances may also play a role since typical families are buying new televisions more frequently than in previous decades and the number of televisions in an average home has increased. The changing design of televisions is also relevant. New thinner televisions have significantly smaller bases making them top heavy and more likely to topple over. Many families are also buying bigger televisions with can amplify the danger if they topple.
Experts have suggested a few potential solutions to this problem. First and foremost, parents need to be made more aware of the issue, possibly through a public awareness campaign. A campaign to distribute anchoring devices has been discussed as well as providing them with new televisions at purchase. Another option may be to add stability requirements to new designs so that televisions are less likely to topple. It is also recommended that parents never store remote controls or toys on top of a television because they may entice children into climbing to reach them. Only time will tell which solution if any are implemented, but this study is a first step in raising public awareness about this issue.
To view a Cause Map, or visual root cause analysis, of this issue, click on “Download PDF” above. A Cause Map visually lays out the causes that contribute to a problem to show the cause-and-effect relationships and can help clarify a situation. The possible solutions are included on the Cause Map.