Dec. 13, 2012 at 10:44 AM ET
A safety alert for parents this holiday season: The popular gift with a hidden danger that's hurting — even killing — children.
We're talking about TVs. Flatscreens are dropping in price, which means many of us are out there buying them. Who would ever think they're dangerous?
But now, exclusive new numbers that every parent should see: More kids than ever are being killed from TVs and furniture falling on top of them, with a child being rushed to the hospital every 45 minutes. There's a simple thing you can do right now to prevent this.
It's a nightmare becoming so common that safety experts and the federal government are issuing new warnings today. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 37 kids were killed from TV, furniture and appliance tipovers last year alone — up a shocking 37 percent. Another 23,400 children were rushed to emergency rooms.
We asked Kate Carr, president of the watchdog group Safe Kids: "How does this happen?"
She told us that flatscreen TVs tend to be "top-heavy with a narrow base. Small kids are very curious about TVs; they want to get them on. They come over, they grab them, it wobbles, and it falls right over on the child."
Carr said many parents keep flatscreens on stands — an invitation to danger. And now there's a new problem: With flatscreen TVs so popular, what to do with that old tube TV?
"A lot of people taking their old TVs, moving them into basements or kids' bedrooms," we pointed out.
"That's right," Carr said. "And they're up on a high dresser. And kids reach for the remote, climb up on a drawer, pull the drawer out... and there it goes."
The impact, studies show, is the same as a baby falling from a 10th-story window. It happened to 2-year-old Chance Bowles, no match for her TV.
"The last thing she said to me was 'I love you, Mama,' and that was it," Chance's mother, Keisha Bowles, told us. She was in the next room when her cute little girl pulled out the drawers and climbed up on a dresser. In just seconds it all came down.
"That's the last time I saw my child alive," Keisha Bowles said. "She was lying on the floor unconscious because the TV fell on her."
So how do you protect your kids? Flatscreens should always be mounted on the wall, secure. At the very least, experts say, buy a special strap and attach your TV and dresser to the wall. Those straps cost less than $20.
"We don't want you to take the chance on losing your baby, like we did ours," Keisha Bowles said.
The TV manufacturer's group told us it's committed to safety, and consumers should always properly secure their TVs. Here's another thing you can do at home right now: A lot of us keep our wallets, cell phones, the remote or toys on top of dressers — bad idea. Keep that top surface clear of anything your kids would want to get a hold of.
Flatscreens look light, but they can weigh up to 50 pounds or more. And a new report by Safe Kids says the reason most parents don't hang flatscreen TVs on the wall is because they're worried about damaging the wall.
For more safety tips about securing TVs and furniture in your home, click here.
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