Select safe, age-appropriate toys for a Merry Christmas

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'Tis the season for giving.

While Santa is preparing to bring tots the trendiest toys for Christmas, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control wants to remind parents that safety should be a top priority this holiday.

In 2016, there were more than 174,100 toy-related injuries - treated in the emergency room - associated with children younger than 15, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

DHEC offers the following safety tips for choosing toys this Christmas season:

- Choose toys according to the child's age, interest and skill level. Also, pay attention to safety labels such as "flame retardant/flame resistant," or "washable/hygienic materials" on stuffed toys

- Immediately discard plastic wrappings from toys - they become deadly playthings to small children

- Choose toys that are colorful, lightweight, textured and made of non-toxic materials for children aged 1 and younger. Children of this age range learn through sight, touch, sound and taste and often put objects into their mouths to explore them

- Do not give young children toys with small parts - removable eyes, noses, etc. - because they are choking hazards

- Toys with sharp points or edges made from hard materials should not be given to children younger than 8. This includes stuffed animals with wires that could stab, cut or shock if exposed

- Toys with strings, cords or ribbons of should not be hung in cribs or playpens because young children can become entangled, causing injury or death

- Teach older children to keep toys that may be dangerous to younger siblings out of reach

- Keep toys and play equipment in good condition, assure protective gear fits appropriately, and discard any toys that are broken

- Provide hazard-free play environments - both indoors and outdoors - and regularly conduct toy maintenance checks

- Teach children to put toys away when they are finished playing to prevent accidental falls

For more information on toy safety, visit DHEC's website at http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/ChildTeenHealth/EarlyChildhood/PreventInjuries/.