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Health Canada warns on furniture tip-overs and children

Health Canada has issued a warning to parents and caregivers about the dangers of flat screen televisions, dressers and other furniture and appliances that can fall and crush children. Every year in Canada, there are "hundreds" of incidents of TV and furniture tip-overs onto children, the agency said this week.

Most of the incidents involved televisions. Of those, 70 per cent involved children age 3 and under.

The warning follows a report issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission last December that 2011 was the deadliest on record for TV and furniture tip-over deaths in that country.

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From 2000 to 2011, 349 people (the majority children under age 9) died when TV, furniture or appliances fell on them. In 2011 alone, the number of fatalities reached 41.

A spokesman for Health Canada said it is difficult to track the number of tip-over incidents in Canada because they involve a wide variety of electronics, furniture and appliances. However, a 2009 report from the Public Health Agency of Canada said there are about 9,000 injuries a year involving furniture, TVs and appliances. Most of the cases, which aren't limited to tip-overs, involve children younger than 5.

Health Canada advises caregivers to ensure that dressers and other furniture for clothing storage meet accepted international standards and to inquire with manufacturers or retailers to ensure this is the case. Furniture can also be fitted with anchors or straps to prevent the risk of tip-overs.

The U.S. CPSC also pointed out that as more people purchase flat screen TVs, they may be putting older, heavier TVs in different rooms of the house, where they could pose a risk. For instance, an older TV that is placed on top of a dresser poses a major risk to children. In addition to anchoring or securing furniture and TVs, the agency advises parents to keep remote controls, toys and other items off of furniture and appliances, such as dressers or media storage stands.

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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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