Each year, more than 3 billion toys and games are sold in the United States, and more than half of those are sold during the holiday season alone.

Although the majority of toys are safe, they can become dangerous if misused or if they fall into the hands of children who are too young to play with them. It is important for parents to follow the age and safety recommendations on the labels of each toy.

The Child Safety Protection Act, a federal toy labeling law, requires manufacturers to place warning labels on toys that pose a choking hazard to young children.

Check for Recent Recalls Visit the Web site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) regularly to obtain information on recent toy recalls.

Be sure to return the warranty and product registration forms for new toy purchases to ensure that you will be notified of any recalls. Additional Safety Information Visit the Web site of Safe Kids USA (www.usa.safekids.org) for more information about accidental injury prevention in children 0-14, safety tips, fact sheets and more, contact Chrissy Cianflone, Home and Fire Safety Manager, Safe Kids Worldwide on 202-662-0625 or [email protected].

When Selecting a toy this shopping season:

Choose toys suitable to your child’s age, abilities and skill level. Toys that are not appropriate for your child’s age group may pose safety hazards.

Avoid toys with small removable parts, which could pose a choking hazard to children under age 3. To be sure, use a small parts tester (which can be purchased at a toy or baby specialty store) or the tube from a roll of toilet paper. If the piece fits entirely inside the tube, then it is considered a choking hazard.

Look for high-quality design and construction. Make sure eyes, noses and other possible small parts are tightly secured.

Avoid sharp points or edges on toys for kids under the age of 8. • Avoid electrical toys with heating elements (batteries, electrical plugs) for children under the age of 8. These toys are a potential burn hazard.

Avoid toys that produce loud noises. Toy guns and high-volume games can permanently impair a child’s hearing. • Avoid toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches, which can wrap around a child’s neck and accidentally strangle him or her.

Be sure to read the labels on all toys. Be aware of age and safety recommendations, and use the information as a guide.