TV Tip-Overs Still Pose a Danger to Children Despite Thinner Flat Screens

Here's how to protect kids from serious injury

Child standing in front of a large flat screen TV Photo: Getty Images

This is something you might not think about when you’re buying a new TV, but it’s a sobering fact: Installed incorrectly, a modern television that tips over can be very dangerous, even deadly. And the risk is greatest for children.

Since 2000, there have been 581 tip-over fatalities involving furniture, TVs, or appliances in the U.S., according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most of those killed were kids—and 71 percent of the child fatalities involved a television.

Additionally, from 2018 to 2020, an average of about 22,500 Americans a year visited an emergency room to get treated for a tip-over injury from furniture, a TV, or an appliance. Almost 44 percent of those were under 18 years old.

The overall injury numbers declined somewhat from 2011 to 2020, mainly because there were fewer accidents involving a TV.

“We’re pleased to see the decrease in tip-over injuries over time. However, annually, thousands of children are still injured, and far too many die due to this hazard,” says CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “People either don’t know about the risks, or they think it can’t happen when an adult is nearby.”

TV-related tip-overs don’t only affect children. According to the report, from 2018 to 2020, 62 percent of the fatalities for all age groups involved a television.

Why Accidents Happen

You might think that TV tip-overs wouldn’t be dangerous now that thin LCD TVs have replaced bulkier CRT TV sets. 

Today’s models are considerably lighter than old-fashioned CRTs, but that doesn’t mean they’re light, especially in the jumbo sizes many consumers prefer. For example, a 75-inch TV tested by CR, the Vizio P75Q9-H1, weighs about 75 pounds with its base. An 82-inch set, the LG 82UP8770PUA, weighs almost 93 pounds with its stand.

More on TVs and Safety

The danger is greatest if a TV is sitting on a piece of furniture that also can tip over. That’s why it’s a bad idea to place a television on a dresser. Some children pull out dresser drawers and use them to climb, which can cause the dresser and TV to topple onto the child.

When Consumer Reports tests dressers for stability, it finds significant differences among models. Based on the results and an analysis of CPSC data, CR is calling for strong, mandatory industry standards for dressers and similar furniture.

Outside of bedrooms, today’s bigger TVs are often placed on cabinets, tables, and media consoles designed for the smaller sets they replaced, which can make them unstable.

And some new TVs have stand designs that position the legs at the very edges of the TV base. If these sets are placed on media consoles or tables that were designed for pedestal-style stands, where the feet are positioned in the middle of the set, the feet may extend beyond the edges of the stand. That will make the TV highly unstable.

How to Prevent a TV Tip-Over at Home

TV tip-overs aren’t difficult to prevent, especially if you have basic DIY skills. Even if you’re not handy, you can improve safety by placing the set on an appropriate stand. The same goes for renters who aren’t allowed to screw things into the walls. Here’s what you should do.

Wall-mount the TV. A properly installed wall mount—lag-bolted to studs or a hefty crossbeam—will keep the TV secure and high enough off the floor so that it can’t be grabbed by young children.

If wall-mounting isn’t feasible, secure the TV to a wall (or to the back of the stand if it’s substantial enough) using anti-tipping straps (about $7 to $20). Furniture holding the TV can also be anchored to the floor or wall using brackets, screws, or braces. If you’re using straps, secure them to a stud in the wall, not into drywall or plaster, which can give way under pressure.

Make sure the stand or furniture is sturdy and appropriate for the size and weight of the TV, and place the set as far back on the stand as you can, especially if anchoring isn’t possible. If you’re putting a new TV on your old TV’s stand, make sure that no portion of the pedestal or feet extends over the edge. If you have an older home with irregular floors, make sure the stand or cabinet isn’t wobbly (insert a shim if necessary). Consumer Reports has details on how to anchor furniture to help prevent tip-overs—and we’ve seen that many people skip this important safety step.

Avoid placing TVs on dressers and chests, because children may be tempted to climb on the drawers, possibly causing the dresser or TV to topple. 

Make sure that electrical cords and cables are out of a child’s reach wherever a TV is placed.

Don’t place kid-enticing items, such as the remote control or toys, on top of a TV or TV stand. That could encourage kids to climb up on unstable surfaces to reach them.

Consider recycling an older tube TV rather than moving it into a child’s room. Small, lightweight TVs are very affordable: There are 22- and 24-inch models available for about $100 in our TV ratings, and new 32-inch TVs start around $130. Remember, even small TVs should be properly secured.

For more information about properly securing TVs and furniture, go to Anchor It for step-by-step videos and guides.

James K. Willcox

I've been a tech journalist for more years than I'm willing to admit. My specialties at CR are TVs, streaming media, audio, and TV and broadband services. In my spare time I build and play guitars and bass, ride motorcycles, and like to sail—hobbies I've not yet figured out how to safely combine.