The American Red Cross says that many of the 2,800 choking death victims every year are infants and children, and two-thirds of the children who choke to death each year are under the age of three.

The biggest risk is, of course, toys, especially those with small parts. Here are some tips for parents to prevent choking:

Pay attention to age recommendations on toy packaging. Toys or detachable toy parts that can fit through a circle of 1 ½ inches, or toys that are under 2 ¼ inches long are unsafe for any child under the age of four.

Make sure your older children put their toys out of reach of younger children, and make periodic checks of your house to be sure there are not small toys laying around.

Keep marbles, coins, batteries, pens, pencils, toy cars with removable wheels and other small objects that can fit into a small child’s mouth away from toddlers and infants.

Do not leave uninflated balloons within reach of small children, who could die from swallowing or inhaling them.

When having a meal or snack, be sure your child is sitting down, takes small bites and doesn’t try to talk or laugh while eating.

If your child is choking, call 911 immediately. If you are trained in the Heimlich maneuver, do so immediately. Do not reach into your child’s mouth to get an object or pat your child on the back, since this could push the object further down into the airway.

If your child is coughing or gagging but can still talk and breathe, this means the object is not totally blocking the airway and it is best to do nothing and wait for help. If you child becomes unconscious, begin CPR immediately.

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