Unstable Televisions, Furniture Killed Nearly 300 in Last Decade: Report

Federal consumer protection officials have released a report highlighting the potential risks associated with unstable furniture, which have caused hundreds of deaths over the last decade, often involving young children. 

At least 293 people died between 2000 and 2010 when unstable and heavy pieces of furniture fell on them, according to a report (pdf) released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The most common piece of furniture to fall and injure someone was a television, and the most common injury was traumatic brain damage, according to the findings.

The report was written by CPSC staff in September 2011, and released this week. During the 10-year time span of the report, televisions fell on and killed at least 176 people. Of those, nearly all (169) were children. In fact, children represented 84 percent of total fatalities; 245 deaths.

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The injury data was just from 2008 through 2010, and gleaned from emergency department-treated injuries. An average of 43,400 people per year were treated in emergency rooms due to injuries from unstable televisions and other pieces of furniture and appliances, CPSC staffers found.

Furniture caused the most injuries, with an average of 22,500 emergency-room visits per year. That number was followed by injuries caused by televisions: 19,200 per year.

Most of the injuries occurred in residential settings and often in the bedroom. Head injuries were associated with 55% of the fatalities. The victims were most frequently crushed and trapped under the heavy furniture.

The CPSC did not release a statement along with the report, which notes that it has not gotten final approval from the commission itself. It is unclear whether the CPSC is considering new regulatory action to address the problem.


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