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The shocking number of deaths caused by falling TVs

Last year, 41 people — mostly children — were killed when television sets fell on them. Here's what you can do to avoid tragedy

On Black Friday, many Americans lined up in the biting cold to take advantage of steep discounts on new TVs. But, as desirable as this go-to appliance is, it also poses unsuspected dangers. According to the latest report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 41 people — mostly children — were killed by falling TVs in 2011. Since 2000, more than 200 children have died that way. More startling stats: 18,000 people are injured by falling sets every year; three children are injured by a tipped-over TV every hour; and one child is killed every two weeks.

The tip-overs are mainly caused by incidents in which people climb on the set (36 percent of such cases involve children) or hit or kick it (14 percent). These tragedies are occurring, the report suggests, as more consumers opt for flat-screens and move their older, heavier sets (which can weigh as much as 100 pounds) to the bedroom. "Children will climb up on furniture to try to turn the TV on and there goes the heavy television as well as the piece of furniture," says Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the commission. Many heavy TVs are being placed on furniture that isn't designed to hold them properly, especially dressers.

Obviously, you can't eyeball your kids at all times, but you can minimize the odds that your child will end up as another statistic:

1. Double-check that your flat-screen is securely mounted to the wall. Just as importantly, talk to your children about changing the channel safely if they can't find the remote. Calmly set rules. Let them know that standing on furniture or climbing to reach the TV is strictly off limits.

2. Anchor your TV. Use common sense and don't place the set on a taller or unsteady piece of furniture — dresser, table, shelf, or kitchen counter — where it has the potential to fall on someone's head.

3. Place your TV on a low, sturdy base. This is especially important if a wall mount isn't possible.

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