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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Agency warns against tipping TVs

CHICAGO — The alert was inventive, if not romantic: “Give the gift of life for Valentine’s Day. Anchor (your TV) and protect a child.”

Thus the Consumer Product Safety Commission sought last week to put yet another spin on a message that seems stubbornly elusive to some parents. Citing a recent rash of TV tip-over accidents in the Chicago area, the federal safety agency is again reminding parents to anchor their TVs and furniture.

After falling TVs injured or killed five children in the Chicago area in less than four months — the most recent, a 2-year-old girl who was struck by a TV and dresser last Wednesday, was the only one to survive — experts and advocates are renewing calls for public education and added safety measures.

“People tend to think these are freak accidents. But they’re all too common, unfortunately,” said Andrea Gielen, professor and director of Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy in Baltimore.

Gielen and a number of safety experts say TVs should come with straps or anchors to prevent them from tipping over. In addition, stores that sell TVs should sell the straps for consumers to use on their older TVs, she said.

Underwriters Laboratories, which sets voluntary safety standards for the TV industry, could update those standards to specify that safety straps be included when TVs are sold. But John Drengenberg, UL’s consumer safety director, pointed out that most of the recent Chicago-area cases appeared to involve older TV sets “in secondary locations.”

The federal safety commission has reported that, from 2000 to 2010, 169 children died after TVs fell on them. Most of the research, though, doesn’t specify whether the TVs were older models or newer, flat-screen varieties that, while lighter, can tip over more easily and still weigh enough to crush a child. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that all TVs, old and new, be anchored.

Drengenberg stressed that UL has safety standards, and discussions on TV safety are ongoing. The standards were most recently revised in 2004, and the last time the panel overseeing those standards met was in 2006. UL’s priority is raising awareness, he said.

Despite anchors, experts recommend that TV sets be placed on low, stable stands, not on dressers or chests, particularly those with drawers. Parents should avoid placing remote controls, toys or anything that may entice a child to climb on or near the TV.

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