5 On Your Side

Falling TVs can crush, kill children

Posted April 22, 2009 4:29 p.m. EDT
Updated April 22, 2009 6:42 p.m. EDT

Dozens of children die every year from televisions that crash down on top of them.

Consumer Reports says the problem is increasing, probably because as people buy new flat-screen TVs, they often move older sets into bedrooms.

Erin Kaiser knows how deadly a television can be. Her 18-month-old daughter Chloe was crushed and killed by a TV.

"My husband had run into the bedroom and picked up the television, and all we could see were her hands and feet. All I know, she wasn't responding at all," Kaiser said.

The weight of a TV makes it a deadly danger for children, especially when it's set on top of a dresser or other furniture not designed to hold a TV.

"(Children) will use the drawers of a dresser as a climbing platform to climb up like a ladder and try to reach the television. That can cause an unstable condition. The television could tip over and crush them," said Don Mays, with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports checked to see how much force it takes to tip over various-sized televisions.

It turns out that the bigger TVs tested on the dresser were not the easiest to tip over.

"We found that the biggest risk is probably with the smaller TVs, because with those sitting on top of a dresser, it takes much less force to get the dresser to tip over," Mays said.

The TV that killed Chloe was a 27-inch model.

"You should never put televisions on a dresser or other type of furniture that's not designed to handle it," Mays said.

But, as Erin Kaiser now realizes, even television stands can be unstable.

"It was a TV stand that had a drawer in it, and she got up into the drawer, and the whole thing just collapsed on her," Kaiser said. "(Children) are little. They only want what they want. You just have to try and protect them every which way you can."

The bottom line: Put televisions on very heavy, stable furniture that has no drawers. Consumer Reports says that ideally, the furniture should be attached to the wall. Many pieces now come with brackets so that you can do that.

Also, no matter what size TV you have, push it back away from the edge of the table, so it's as close to the wall as you can get it.