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News Flash: TVs Might Fall Over

Warning! TVs and big pieces of furniture could tip over and hurt someone, so you better be careful.

That’s the message, more or less, that some New Jersey legislators want vendors to include in or on the packaging of TV sets with screens sizes of 25 inches and up, of any TV stand, and of furniture that’s 42 inches or more in height, including dressers, bookcases, and armoires used to “stores, display or otherwise place items.”

The bill passed the state Assembly’s consumer affairs committee, but a floor vote hasn’t been scheduled.

As amended by the committee, the bill “requires that consumers receive written notice concerning the existence of separately available devices designed to anchor, stabilize, or otherwise prevent large furniture or televisions from tipping,” according to an Assembly statement. The warning does not have to mention specific types of products that stabilize TV sets and furniture, as required in the original proposal.

The amended bill would also leave it to manufacturers to warn consumers about the tipping threat. Retailers would have had to hand out the warnings in the original proposal.

The bill specifies a civil penalty of up to $250 for a first offense or up to $500 for each subsequent offense.

Assembly Bill No. 2230 is designed with the best of intentions. It’s designated as Chloe and Samantha’s Law in memory of two girls killed in unfortunate TV-tipping accidents. On December 17, 2006, in Vineland, New Jersey, a 27-inch television fell on top of 18-month-old Chloe Keiser. Another girl, 35-month-old Samantha Ventresca of Lawrence Township, died May 9, 2007, when a similarly large television fell off a bureau that had tipped over.

I doubt the bill will save lives. You can’t legislate common sense, or watch your kids every moment of the day to make sure they’re not climbing on furniture.

The only solution might be to force consumers to bolt their TV sets and furniture to the floor.

What’s your take on this?