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The real holiday danger lurking in your home

When you think of holiday dangers and children, what comes to mind? Choking on small toy parts? Accidentally drinking an alcoholic beverage that's been left unattended? Being poisoned by a poinsettia?

While some of those are valid concerns (save for poinsettias, which, despite popular belief, are not toxic, many adults may not realize that another source of potential risk to children is sitting right in their living room: the television set.

A record number of children in the United States were killed last year after being crushed by TVs and furniture.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a report Thursday that said 2011 marked the year with the highest number of deaths related to TV and furniture tip-overs.

At the same time, a new report from NBC News says that every 45 minutes, a child in the United States is rushed to the hospital as the result of a tip-over involving TVs, furniture and appliances.

The major concern centres on TVs, which can be put on top of a piece of furniture. Children can climb up on the furniture and grab the TV, causing it to crash down on them. While flat screen TVs are an issue, the consumer report also notes that some families put old, bulkier TVs on dressers or other furniture, which poses a risk to children.

The agency said that 349 consumers, the majority of them younger than 9, were killed between 2000 and 2011 after TVs, furniture or appliances fell on them. In 2011, the figure was 41. In total, the agency says 43,000 people, most of them children, are injured in tip-over accidents each year. Although falling furniture accounts for more than half of those injuries, falling TV sets are more deadly. About two-thirds of fatalities linked to tip-overs were the result of falling TVs, it says.

The agency is urging parents to anchor televisions, appliances and furniture to walls in order to prevent these events from occurring.

In 2009, Health Canada said it had received more than 5,000 reports of TV and furniture falling onto children under age 10 since 1990.

So don't sweat about poinsettias. A TV that's sitting on a piece of furniture without being anchored to the wall is much more dangerous.

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More


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