We have experienced another year of shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving. I am thankful I was not among the shoppers that day, but I am slowly realizing that I must get my shopping done.

The holidays are quickly approaching and the holiday shopping season is already in full swing. But, everyone must remember to make sure that all the toys and gifts they buy for the children on their lists are safe and age appropriate. With so much attention focused lately on dangerous toys with high lead content, those that pose choking hazards, and toys that are poorly constructed, it is more important than ever to take precautions.

Last year, more than 170,000 children under the age of 15 were treated in the emergency room for toy-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 80,000 of those were to children ages 5 and younger. It can be very tempting to buy the hottest toy or game, but it may not be the best choice for your child. It is much more important to make sure the gifts we give are safe.

The following tips will help keep this holiday season safe and bright for children:

Inspect all toys before purchasing. Monitor toys that your child has received as gifts to make sure they are appropriate for your child's age and developmental level.

For older children, give gift certificates to movie theaters, the child's favorite restaurant, or retail stores that allow the parents to choose an appropriate item.

Make recommendations to family members and friends about gifts you feel are appropriate for your child.

Remain aware of recalled products. Unfortunately, some toys have been recalled or banned may still be available online.

Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles). The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates there are 40,000 sports-related eye injuries each year.

Any toy that is labeled "supervision required" must always be used in the presence of an adults. Keep toys meant for older children away from younger ones.

Always save the warranties and directions for every toy. If possible, include a gift receipt. Repair or throw away damaged toys.

Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.

Inspect toys for sturdiness. Your child's toys should be durable, with no sharp edges or points. The toys should also withstand impact. Dispose of plastic wrapping material immediately on toys as they may have sharp edges.

Don't give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.

Kim Miles is the Brown County AgriLife Extension agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. Her column usually appears on Sundays. She may be reached at (325) 646-0386.