In October, a falling TV killed a five-year-old boy in Western Australia. It’s a tragic but timely reminder to all of us that household furniture should be checked for stability and safety.
In this case, the television was on top of a chest of drawers. Furniture like this can easily tip if too many drawers are opened, or a child tries to climb it – bringing items on top down with it.
Old style TVs are heavy, even with a small screen size. Large and heavy flatscreen televisions are becoming commonplace; but being larger and narrower than older models can also make them less stable. The base may seem stable enough – but consider what could happen if a toddler got hold of the power lead, or the unit itself.
According to the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit, between 2006 and 2010 children under 10 accounted for 70 per cent of visits to emergency departments for injuries caused by tipping TVs.
A TV guide:
Consumer Affairs Victoria encourages parents and carers to follow these guidelines to prevent injuries from falling TVs:
- only use entertainment units or stands that match the size of your TV, and have a wide, deep and stable base
- secure your TV to a wall with the appropriate brackets or straps
- keep the power lead and other cords out of reach of children, preferably behind furniture
- keep items that children may reach for, including the remote control, off the top of the TV
- avoid placing your TV on unstable furniture or on a trolley.
Other furniture can fall
Check your home for other top-heavy pieces of furniture that could topple if a child grabs or climbs on them. Inspect wall units, bookcases and other tall or unstable items. If you find an accident waiting to happen, secure or replace that item.
Next time you buy furniture, check whether it:
- has a wide, stable base that makes it difficult to pull over
- is difficult for a child to climb on (and fall off)
- has toughened glass in any glass-topped surfaces
- features round smooth edges, to prevent cuts and bruises
- can be secured to a wall with braces or anchors, if it is tall.
It’s never too soon to start
If you are expecting a baby, or are the parent or carer of a child under five, Product Safety Australia has a free safety guide for you. You can download the Keeping Baby Safe guide as a PDF, or as an ebook for iOS devices.
If you have questions about the safety of nursery equipment, you can call the Consumer Affairs Victoria Toy and Nursery Safety Line on 1300 36 48 94.
You can view a news report on the Western Australian boy’s death.