A warning to those of you holiday shopping at thrift stores for those second-hand goods that they don't make like they used to: Sometimes there's a reason they don't.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released the results of its summer-long survey that revealed 69 percent of 301 randomly selected thrift stores nationwide were selling at least one hazardous product that had previously been recalled. And many thrifties--including some operated by national and charitable organizations--carried more than one banned item on their shelves.

More than half the surveyed stores were selling children's jackets and sweat shirts whose drawstrings posed a strangulation hazard--always one of CPSC's red flags in clothing, window blinds, and other products. One in five of the stores sold hand-held hair dryers manufactured without the electrocution protection switch that has been required since 1987. Twelve percent had baby cribs on hand that didn't meet current federal and voluntary safety standards that help prevent entrapment and strangulation.

While nationwide product recalls are effective in getting dangerous products off store shelves, many consumer and thrift store merchants don't always recognize products that have been recalled or don't meet safety standards. CPSC has published a "Thrift Store Checklist" for shoppers and store operators with tips on recognizing the types of products that have been recalled. For the free checklist, visit CPSC's Web site, www.cpsc.gov, or send a postcard with your name and address to Thrift Store Checklist, CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20207.

Bicycle Recall

On the topic of hazardous products, Monday two bicycle companies recalled products that posed a hazard to owners. Royce Union Bicycles Co. Inc. recalled about 3,700 men's mountain bicycles whose frames, in four reported incidents, broke apart, causing riders to fall and suffer serious head and back injuries. The recalled model has "Aluminum 2000" written across the top tube.

They sold at Sears stores nationwide for about $300 from April 1998 through September 1999. Call Royce Union, 888-366-3828, for a free replacement bicycle.

The other recalled bike sold for about $160 at discount department stores and sporting good stores nationwide from June 1998 through September 1999. Made by the Huffy Bicycle Co., the frames on three models of men's mountain bikes broke apart and caused serious injuries in two reported cases.

Huffy is recalling 18,600 of the bikes--all have "Huffy" written on the frame's down tube. Call Huffy about free replacement bikes, 888-366-3828.

Tree Lights Ahead

This year, CPSC stopped 360,000 units of unsafe, imported holiday lights from landing on store shelves. That does not, however, mean that your tree lights, brand new or from Christmases past, are safe. CPSC suggests you check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Pull the little bulbs on damaged sets as spares and discard the rest. Also, don't hook up more than three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord. Remember to turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave home.