A young girl very close to a large TV.

This is something you may not think about when you're buying a new TV, but it's a sobering fact: Between 2000 and 2016, more than 300 people were killed by a television tipping over, often along with a piece of furniture—and the majority of the victims were children younger than age 6.

"At this age, children are at a developmental stage where they like to climb, jump, and are eager to exert their independence by dressing themselves or putting on their favorite shows," says Catherine Kim, public affairs specialist at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which collected the data.

In addition to the deaths, tip-overs involving TVs send thousands of people to emergency rooms—about one every 52 minutes, according to CPSC data.

You might think that TV tip-overs are no longer a serious concern now that thinner LCD TVs have replaced bulkier CRT TV sets. But that would be a big mistake.

Why Accidents Happen

Just because today's TVs are considerably lighter than old-fashioned CRTs, that doesn't mean they're light, especially in the jumbo sizes many consumers prefer. For example, one 65-inch TV we tested, the LG OLED65G7P, weighs almost 70 pounds, including the stand.

More on Furniture Tip-Overs

And the danger is even greater if the 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 forward onto the child.

Consumer Reports recently tested 24 dressers and found significant differences in their stability. Based on the results and an analysis of CPSC data, Consumers Union, the advocacy division of 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 replace, 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 would make them highly unstable.

How to Stay Safe

TV tip-overs are not hard 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. And the same goes if you're a renter who is not allowed to start screwing things into the wall.

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 just into drywall or plaster, which could 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, and shim if necessary. Learn how to anchor furniture to help prevent tip-overs.

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

Make sure electrical cords and cables are out of a child's reach, wherever the TV is placed.

Don't place kid-enticing items, such as remote controls or toys, on the 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 at about $130. Remember, even small TVs should be properly secured.

 

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