Research released today shows that more than 17,000 American children each year are crushed by falling TV sets. That amounts to one child every thirty minutes.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, says a child is killed a falling TV once every three weeks, and two children are injured by a falling TV each hour.
"These new findings show there is a lack of recognition of the potential dangers that TV tip overs pose to young children," said Gary Smith, the study's author and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance.
Dr. Lillian Lao, pediatric trauma director at University Hospital, tells 1200 WOAI's Michael Board that the tragedies happen more than they should.
"The number of kids we treat every year from TV's falling on them," he said. "We have anywhere from ten to twenty."
Last week, a three year old child died when an old-fashioned 'box style' television set which was on top of a dresser in a home on the city's northeast side fell on him. Another child was killed in San Antonio last year in the same way.
Smith suspects that as families are going to new, flat screen and much safer HDTVs, the older, and heavier, analog 'box' sets are being moved into other parts of the house, and are often placed on items of furniture which were not build to hold television sets, like dressers.
He points out that children can easily climb on dressers by opening the drawers and using them as steps, and that causes an imbalance which causes the dresser to tip forward.
Dr. Lao says even when the child survives, it causes life long injuries.
"Unfortunately, the majority of the injuries with the kids are traumatic brain injuries," she said.
"The rest of the body takes on the energy fairly well but the head does not, so the majority of the injury is concentrated on the brain."
The study confirms Lao's suspicions, pointing out that in nearly half of the cases, the television set fell off a dresser, bookcase, or armoire. But in nearly one third of the cases, the television set fell off an entertainment center or TV stand. The study did not look at the percentage of the incidents which happened when television sets fell off improperly installed wall mounted brackets.
And smaller isn't necessarily safer. In 69% of the cases, the study says the television involved in the injury or death was less than 26 inches.