Falling TVs and 6 Other Dangers Kids Face at Home

Falling TVs
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Parents used to read the nursery rhyme to their kids about how Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, but today moms and dads are worried about falling TVs. A new study published in Pediatrics reports on the rise in falling televisions and the number of children who are hurt. Here is the low down on falling TVs and 6 other dangers kids face at home and what parents can do.

Beware of falling televisions

In decades past, televisions didn’t tip over because they sat on the floor, typically in a cabinet, and even if you bumped into them, they didn’t fall over. Advanced technology being what it is, many homes now sport a variety of flat screen and/or big screen TVs that sit on tables or other furniture, balance on pedestals, or are mounted on walls.

The authors of the new study evaluated data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System regarding injuries to children requiring emergency department attention from 1990 to 2011. They found that:

  • Child injury rate related to TVs increased by 95% over the past 22 years
  • Among children younger than age 5 years, the number of injuries associated with falling TVs rose by 125.5% over the same time period
  • The injury rate associated with TVs falling from dressers, armoires, and similar furniture items rose by 344.1% during the study period
  • Falling TVs was the most common injury among the children (52.5%)
  • Striking (e.g., falling against, running into) a TV was the second most common TV related injury at 38.1%

For the sake of comparison, Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to the prevention of injuries in kids, reported that 12,800 kids aged 19 years and younger were seen in emergency rooms (ERs) for injuries caused by falling TVs in 2011. Of those children, 37 died (age 17 years and younger).

Other potential dangers for kids at home
Safe Kids Worldwide provides information on other items in the home that parents should be aware can harm their children. Here are the latest statistics.

Toys: 262,300 kids were seen in ERs for injuries related to toys in 2011. In that year, 13 toy-related deaths in kids ages 15 and younger were reported to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

What parents can do: Check to make sure a toy has not been recalled or contains lead or other hazardous components before making a purchase. Supervise children when they play with toys that have parts that move or can be removed. Do not give toys with small parts to young children. Expose your children to toys that are appropriate for their skill level and abilities.

Batteries: 2,836 children ages 19 and younger swallowed button batteries and were reported to poison control centers in the United States in 2011. In 2012, two children ages 19 and younger died after ingesting button batteries.

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What parents can do: Be sure there are no loose button batteries lying around the house. Keep items that contain button batteries away from small children. Place a piece of tape over the battery access panel on items that contain button batteries to discourage young children from opening the case.

Bicycles: 289,473 kids ages 19 and younger went to the ER in 2011 for injuries related to riding a bike

What parents can do: Make sure your child always wears a helmet (and you should wear one too!). Supervise youngsters who are learning to ride a bike. Knee and elbow pads may be recommended for some children. Check your child’s bike for safety on a regular basis.

Skateboards: 78,303 kids ages 19 and younger had skateboard-related injuries in 2011

What parents can do: Insist your child wear a helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads when using a skateboard. Supervise kids who are learning how to use a skateboard. Check your child’s skateboard for safety on a regular basis.

Poisons: This includes items such as medications, household cleaning products, lawn and garden products, paints, makeup and other beauty products, and plants. Half of the 2.4 million calls made to poison control centers in the United States in 2010 involved kids ages 5 and younger. Ninety percent of poisonings occur in the home.

What parents can do: If you have young children at home (or visiting grandchildren), lock up all poisonous products or at least put them where they cannot be reached. Put the number for the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222) on your refrigerator and store it in your cell phone. Have your home checked for carbon monoxide and lead-based paint.

Every year, preventable injuries kill nearly 1 million children around the world. Whether it’s a falling TV, unsecured poisons under the kitchen sink, loose batteries lying on a table, or unsafe toys, parents need to be aware of the hazardous items in their home and how they could harm their kids.

REFERENCES
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Website. Unintentional bicycle‐related injuries, children ages 19 and under.
National Capital Poison Center. Button Battery Ingestion Statistics. March 27, 2013.
Safe Kids Worldwide
Smith GA et a. Television-related injuries to children in the United States, 1990-2011. Pediatrics 2013; DOI:10.1542/peds.2013-1086
Tu Y. Toy‐Related Deaths and Injuries Calendar Year 2011.U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, November 2012.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission . National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) injury data. NEISS estimates.

Image: Morguefile

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