Five-year-old Stacia Harris wanted to exchange one Disney princess DVD for another, so she tried to scale the dresser on which her TV was standing and reach the discs above it. Seconds later, Harris' brother and parents found her with the dresser across her body and a 27-inch TV on her head.
"Very distressing," said her father, Chris Harris, adding that "the TV outweighs her by quite a big amount, by about 15 pounds."
Stacia is one of two kids treated this week at Hennepin County Medical Center for injuries related to falling televisions. The mini-trend prompted the hospital to put out a warning about the risks to small children. Hospital officials cited a 2009 study that reviewed 264,200 injuries to children in the U.S. from 1990 to 2007 that involved furniture tip-overs. TVs were involved in half of those incidents, which appeared to be growing in prevalence over the years.
The Harris family in Deerwood, Minn., initially took Stacia to the local ER. The impact had caused some bleeding and her right eye to swell shut. Back home a few days later, she forgot her last name and called her brother "Ariel," which is the name of the household dog. A second imaging scan found bleeding in her brain so Stacia was transferred to HCMC for observation and treatment.
The good news is that Stacia was discharged from the hospital Thursday. Her father said she seems to have recovered: "She's almost back to her normal, flirting self. She wanted to marry the eye doctor."
Not everything is quite the same, of course. Instead of wanting to be a "princess" as a grown up, she now wants to be a "Tinker Bell doctor." Not sure quite what that means, but go Stacia! Chris has also taken steps to anchor the dresser that tipped over and prevent it from being an accident risk. He considers his family lucky, knowing that other accidents like this have been more severe or even fatal.
A tip sheet from the Center for Injury Research and Policy offers the following safety advice to parents:
- Place the TV on a low, wide base. Push it as far back on its base as possible.
- Do not use shelves or dressers as TV stands. These are not made to support the weight of a TV. When purchasing a TV stand, check the size and weight limits.
- Strap all TVs to a stable stand and/or wall.
- Attach large furniture, such as dressers and bookshelves, to the wall using safety straps, Lbrackets, or other secure attachment devices.
- Safety straps are available that do not require drilling holes in furniture and can secure items up to 100 lbs.
- Place heavy items on lower shelves of bookcases or entertainment centers.
- Use desks with wide legs or solid bases. Install drawer stops on all drawers to prevent them from being pulled out more than two thirds of the way.
- Parents should not place items of interest (toys, remote control) high on shelves or on top of the TV.
- Children may try to climb up the furniture to reach these items.
- Keep cords from TVs and other appliances tucked away so a child does not pull these items down on himself.