By Michael MacLeod
WORLD Cup fans are being warned to be on their guard over the dangers flat-screen televisions pose to children.
Super slim TVs have surged in popularity, with sales expected to increase further in the countdown to the biggest show on earth.
But with South Africa 2010 tournament almost upon us, health and safety chiefs fear they could have a tragic knock-on effect.
In the UK alone since 2008, four children aged between 13 months and four years-old have been killed by pulling over flat-screen TVs.
Among them was tragic toddler Karli Ann Watt, two, who died after a huge TV set toppled on top of her in Edinburgh last March.
The accident happened in the family’s flat in the Moredun area. Her parents said they were “devastated” when they heard a loud bang and rushed into the room to find their daughter badly injured.
Karli Ann was rushed to the Sick Kids Hospital but died a short time later.
In the run up to the World Cup and the potential distraction football will have on parents looking after their kids, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has issued a guide to reduce the risks.
Errol Taylor, RoSPA’s deputy chief executive, said: “Toddlers are particularly at risk of pulling flat-screen televisions on to themselves.
“They are unsteady on their feet and are attracted by colourful television images.
“We know that children have been killed and seriously injured when televisions have fallen on them, and our fear is that such incidents will increase with the growing popularity of flat-screen televisions.”
Anti-tip straps, wide support bases and strong wall brackets are among the products listed in the RoSPA safety guide.
They also warned people against securing their new TVs to hollow walls.
But their Scottish branch warned parents that it isn’t just flatscreen televisions that can be dangerous.
There have been accidents with tragic consequences with other types of television, and the organisation is warning parents to create a “safe environment”.
Elizabeth Lumsden, community safety manager of RoSPA Scotland said: “Supervision is the key when it comes to preventing accidents involving young children.
“But any parent will know just how difficult it is to keep an eye on their children at all times, and that is why a safe environment is also important.
“Children are highly inquisitive, and if you notice that they are becoming interested in an object in your home, such as a large television, it is important to talk to them about the dangers and how to act around it.
“Discouraging them from climbing up items of furniture, and checking for ‘footholds’ on furniture, could also play a part in preventing accidents.
“Parents should be aware of the tremendous weight of some televisions and they should try to ensure that the sets are secured so they cannot topple over.”
Kari Ann’s death came just months after four-year-old Emily May Hughes died on Christmas Day 2008 after her father tripped and accidentally dropped a TV on her head at the family home in Coedpoeth, North Wales.
And 13-month-old Riyaz Ghaazi Mohamed died in July 2008 when he toppled a TV set as he was trying to pull himself up on a chest of drawers it was standing on in Swansea.
In the USA, around 7,500 children visited emergency departments annually for injuries caused by televisions between 1990 and 2007.