Childproof your home theatre

Making your system good is one thing, but how do you make it safe for the ankle-biters of your household? Max Everingham gives some family friendly pointers.

There are plenty of fights and confrontations that you can spot coming from a mile away when you decide to start building your dream home entertainment system. ‘Negotiating’ with the beloved significant other on allocating part of your house to be the home theatre area or, if you’re really fortunate, entire room is the obvious first one.

Persuading the same gorgeous partner that a heap of ‘piano black’ boxes, as the manufacturers optimistically dubbed the move from silver or gold to a glossy black finish, is probably your second conflict. But even then, once you’re through the spouse-laid minefield of unreasonable objections and random preferences, you might just have one last family hurdle before you finally get into your stride – the kids.

Because as fabulous as your new home theatre system looks, we’re still a ways away from achieving the invisible but omnipresent, centrally located voice-controlled system – a home entertainment ‘Hal’ for your lounge room, if you will – and, as such, there are still plenty of buttons, trays, knobs, cables and chunky boxes for your dear children to trip over, fall onto, crash into or otherwise slowly demolish as you watch helplessly from the snug nest you’ve just created for yourself on the couch.

Real danger

In October 2008, a two-year-old girl from the NSW Central Coast was hospitalised in a critical condition after suffering serious head injuries from a falling television. There are no statistics on the number of children hurt or killed in Australia by televisions falling on them, but in the US several children are killed each year (11 in 2006) and in 2007 more than 3000 were hurt. Most of the victims were under the age of five.

Young children are especially vulnerable to injury, as they are often tempted to climb up on dressers or cabinets to get closer to their favorite TV or movie character, or to reach toys or other objects of interest. They are not strong enough to protect themselves when the TV over-balances.

The Central Coast toddler was injured by a 15 inch television, not one of the heavier 40-plus inch behemoths starting to populate Australian lounge rooms. As our televisions become larger so does the likelihood of injury, making it more important than ever to ensure that your furniture supports any TV upgrade you make. If it doesn’t, upgrade the furniture as well.