Long gone are the days of box televisions and a strict one TV per household rule. Lightweight flat-screens are becoming the family room TV of choice and older flat-screens and box sets are being moved into bedrooms. In fact, the number of households with multiple TVs has more than doubled since 1990. The rise of the flat-screen TV has led to some unforeseen and little-talked-about accidents and injuries for our children.
Imagine this scenario…little Johnny is watching a movie before bed. He climbs up onto the dresser to restart the movie and both the TV and dresser fall on top of him. He will now be paralyzed from the waist-down for the rest of his life, dependent on family and forever limited as to the jobs he can perform. For Heather Poole in Surprise, Arizona, this exact incident led to an even worse fate for her 3-year-old son who died last New Year’s Eve.
In response to this devastating tragedy, Poole has started a nonprofit to warn other parents and help safely install and secure their TV’s. Poole never thought of her TV as a safety risk, saying “we had the plugs on the electrical outlets and the cabinet locks, but had never heard of a TV killing a child”. She is not alone. A recent survey by Safe Kids Worldwide found that only 27% of parents had seen media reports about the danger despite the warnings making national news.
If you are thinking to yourself that these are freak accidents, think again. They are much more common than you think. In a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, one child is injured from a television-related incident every 30 minutes. In 2011 alone, 29 people, mostly children, were killed by falling TV’s and more than 200 children have died from them since 2000.
Staring at your TV wondering how secure it really is? According to Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, attaching a flat-screen to the wall is the safest choice. While this may seem counterintuitive, when it’s done right the hold is much stronger and less accident-prone than a box TV set on an unsecure dresser or a flat screen sitting unsecured on an entertainment set.
So…what happens if your child is seriously injured from a television-related accident? How will you afford the lifetime of medical bills and the loss of income both you and your child will experience from this disability? Children are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration from birth up to age 18. The eligibility qualifications are very strict, though, and the family must have low income and few resources.