Hidden Hazard Takes Boys Life

Karl Clermont of Arlington Heights, Illinois was pronounced dead from head injuries after being crushed by a television in his home.
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A tragic accident in a quiet suburb of Chicago sadly illuminates a common, deadly and often overlooked threat in many homes with small children.

Six-year-old Karl Clermont of Arlington Heights, Ill., was downstairs in his family's home watching television Sunday night. His mother was at work and his aunt was babysitting. The two women were on the phone with one another when the aunt heard a loud crash. She ran to investigate and found the 165 pound TV on top of the boy. He was pronounced dead from head injuries shortly thereafter.

The 32-inch tube TV was on a short stand. Arlington Heights Police Capt. Kenneth Galinski tells ABC News that investigators believe Karl was trying to climb onto the set to reach a juice box when it fell on him. "This case," says Galinski, "makes your heart hurt."

Unfortunately, such accidents are surprisingly common. "We see a child crushed by a TV, a piece of furniture or an appliance every two weeks in this country," said Arlene Flecha of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A CPSC report on such "tip-over" accidents released in September reveals that 22,000 children age 8 and younger are injured every year in incidents involving TV and furniture tip-overs. The majority of these are TVs or a combination of TVs and furniture.

Even though the heavier tube TVs are being replaced by lighter flat screen models, the accidents keep happening at about the same rate.

"Often parents don't realize the hazards of placing a large TV on a piece of furniture that is not anchored," says Flecha. "We consider this one of the top hidden hazards in the home."

An example of an arrangement that is a common source of injury: TVs placed on dressers and the child uses the drawers as steps to climb up to or on top of the TV.

Lisa Siefert needs no such illustration. Her 2-year-old son Shane died in March when a dresser fell on him. She identifies with Karl's family, telling ABC News, "It's horrible. I know. I found my son. I do not want another family to go through this." To that end, Siefert is promoting awareness of tip-over dangers.

"It seems to go under the radar," she says, and points out that "when you are childproofing your home, you don't hear a thing about this. It's shocking that even children's furniture stores don't mention this."

Siefert and the CPSC says the solution is as simple as a $2 strap that anchors TVs or furniture to a wall stud. These straps are found in some hardware stores, but are not nearly as common as other childproofing items. Siefert argues they should be.

What happened to Karl, she says "is so sad and so preventable."

Karl Clermont would have celebrated his 7th birthday on Nov. 16.

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