Big TV danger for kids

Reporter: Jonathan Creek

As kids we were always told television was bad for our health, but no one ever imagined physical damageFour-year-old girls Mikayla and Serina were both nearly killed by falling televisions.The massive scars on Mikayla's tiny skull are a constant reminder of how close she came to death.

Rae, her mother, remembers what happened like it was yesterday."I just heard a massive crash and ran into my bedroom and saw Mikayla's feet under the TV," she said.Mikayla had been watching cartoons in her mother's bedroom and whether she bumped the chest of draws or tried to climb them, is unknown.She received critical head injuries and multiple fractures. The toppling TV fell no further than a metre and a half, but it left her in a coma for six days.

"She had a blood clot that they removed on her brain and also tore the lining of her brain; she had four fractures around her skull, she had broken her cheek bones; her nose, her left eye socket and bones at the top of her mouth," Rae said.Serina was a lot luckier, her only injury was a haematoma. Her mother Laura couldn't believe it. "I thought her face was crushed because she had almost the size of a tennis ball on the side of her mouth and the whole side was droopy - which was really quite scary," Laura said.

Other children haven't been quite so lucky. Rugby League star Julian O'Neill's little girl was killed when a large television crushed her and only last month a 10-month-old boy in New Zealand died when a television fell from a cupboard he was climbing.Each year around 300 children are taken to hospital emergency departments as a result of being crushed by falling TV's - on average that's five a week.

Those at greatest risk are aged less than four with the most common injuries being fractures, including the skull.Mark Stokes from Kidsafe claims the growing number of injuries and deaths is clearly linked to the flat panel revolution - but it's moving the older, bigger TV's into bedrooms, not the new panels, that are creating the danger."There are televisions that are 100 kilograms and heavier and a 100 kilogram object falling on a child carries a lot of energy," Mark said.

"Those televisions being large and unstable, being on an object not designed to hold it, can easily be pulled over onto a child. Even the large LCD and Plasmas screens carry significant weight in them."Robert Carbone from Rincom claims one in two "Do it Yourself" TV installations are at risk of collapsing or toppling. He says a lot of the risk can be removed by following a few simple rules and engaging a professional is number one.

"The real risk involved with placing a TV on any type of cabinetry or chest of draws, is that obviously it depends on the structure of what you are putting it on - in my opinion definitely a big no, no," Robert said."When you are buying a big TV, purchase a good solid bracket, get good solid fixings. The safest place for it is up on the wall with all the cables concealed so the kids can't pull on them."

Christopher Zinn from consumer watchdog Choice. is so concerned, he's demanding Australia introduce an Industry Stability Standard that would vet out cheap, sub-standard brackets and stands."The problem is people say it could never happened to me - the terrible fact is it can and it does," he said.Christopher believes there's no substitute for common sense."The advice tonight - just take a look around the back, see if there is an anchor point you can use; push the top, could a kid reach that? Kids are very clever, they can get on chairs and up draws and everything, so take a few minutes to fix it yourself or get some one to do it for you."