westchester county child fatality review team releases

eighth independent child fatality review report



Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore announce that the Westchester County Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) has released its eighth independent child fatality report that warns caregivers on  the dangers posed to children from the placement of both older tube and newer flat-screen televisions on unstable or unsuitable surfaces.


The Team recently reviewed the death of a child who sustained fatal injuries when a 32” tube television toppled from a dresser and fell on top of the four-year-old child.


The Westchester County Child Fatality Review Team takes this opportunity to share with parents and caregivers their recommendations based on safety tips provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Yonkers-based Consumer Reports:


Ø       Place televisions on furniture that is sturdy and appropriate for the size of the TV


Ø       Furniture holding the TV should be anchored to the floor or wall using brackets, screws or braces.  It is best to use hardware provided by manufacturers. 


Ø       Avoid placing TVs on dressers and chests, as children may be tempted to use the drawers to climb and may cause the furniture or TV to topple


Ø       Make sure that the TV does not hang over the edge of the furniture base and that it is positioned as far back as possible


Ø       Place electrical cords out of a child’s reach, and teach children not to play with the cords


Ø       Keep items that might be attractive to children, such as toys and remote controls, away from the top of the TV or TV stand



These suggestions do not exclude additional comprehensive childproofing measures.  For more information on the hazards of tip-overs, the Child Fatality Review Team recommends the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at http://www.cpsc.gov/.


County Executive Robert P. Astorino said, “Prevention is key to keeping our children safe. The Child Fatality Review Team reminds parents to make sure that TVs are firmly anchored to the wall or on a sturdy base.”


District Attorney Janet DiFiore states,” Child deaths relating to falling furniture and televisions can be prevented. Our County’s Child Fatality Review Team helps us identify risks to children in our community that parents and caregivers can correct to prevent future fatalities.” 


During a recent analysis, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that a significant number of children are injured or killed due to televisions falling.  The Commission found that often the injuries or fatalities occur when a child attempts to climb up dresser drawers to turn the television on, change the channel or reach an item near the television such as a remote control or toy.  The weight of the child causes the dresser to tip forward often with tragic results.  Instability and Tip over of Appliances, Furniture and Televisions: Estimated Injuries and Reported Fatalities, 2008 Report by Kevin Gipson, Directorate for Epidemiology, Division of Hazard Analysis at 11-12.  According to this report, between 2000 and 2006, there were 87 fatalities reported in the United States related to televisions falling and 95% of those fatally injured were children less than ten years of age.  In the majority of cases, injuries and fatalities are due to head trauma sustained when televisions fall.  During 2006 an estimated 15,900 persons were treated in emergency rooms for injuries resulting from the tip-over or the instability of a television.  Id. at 2-3. 



The Westchester County CFRT reviews the death of any child that was the subject of a report to the State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, or who at the time of death was receiving services from the Westchester County Department of Social Services or an agency under contract with Westchester County.  The CFRT also reviews the death of a child that is the result of suspicious circumstances.


The Westchester County CFRT was the first team to write state-mandated child fatality reports and the first team in New York to expand the team’s function by issuing independent reports in order to educate the community proactively to prevent future child deaths or injuries.  


The CFRT is comprised of the following team members: the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Westchester County Department of Social Services (Child Protective Services), the Westchester County Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Medical Examiner, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, a forensic pediatrician, members of the local police department who investigated the case as well as a representative of the New York State Police, Westchester County Emergency Medical Services, the Westchester County Department of Health and Victims Assistance Services.