Defective toys harm thousands of children every year, and parents in Virginia should know how to prevent an unnecessary injury.

A child's toy is meant to entertain and possibly educate. It certainly should never harm the child. Unfortunately, defective or dangerous toys account for an alarming number of injuries every year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency room-treated injuries related to toys totaled 251,800 in 2014, the year for which the most recent data is available.

Some toys may be inherently dangerous, and some could simply pose a threat when not used properly. In any case, there are several ways that parents can help reduce the risk of harm, such as the following:

1. Beware of batteries

Battery-operated toys - especially those that take button batteries - are extremely popular, but they can also present a problem for parents of small children. Safe Kids Worldwide states that the average age of a child who swallows a button battery is 3.9.

Button batteries are commonly found in remote controls, musical greeting cards, flashing shoes and a large variety of toys. Any items with such batteries should always be kept away from children who are likely to swallow them. Parents should be cautious of any toy intended for a young child that requires button batteries.

2. Understand age warnings

The CPSC points out that there is a small parts regulation that demands that any toy geared toward children younger than 3 must not contain small objects or be able to produce small parts if broken. These age warnings are necessary both in keeping children safe and to prevent a manufacturer from getting sued for product liability. Parents must diligently review age recommendations on toys to prevent a child from engaging with an item that could present a choking or injury risk.

3. Read safety instructions

The instructions that come along with a toy should be carefully reviewed for safety information. Products that pose a threat must come with a mandatory warning. Parents need to review these warnings to ensure that a child knows how to properly handle a toy, as misuse could lead to a serious injury.

4. Examine old toys

Older toys may be safe when new, but under wear and tear, they can become haggard. An old stuffed animal may have buttons that are loose, which could be a choking hazard. Additionally, very old toys could contain lead, which is a severe threat to a child's safety. Parents who fear that an item may have lead can send it to a lab for testing.

5. Proper storage

Though every parent understands the struggle of keeping a clean home, it is still imperative to properly stow toys when they are not in use. Small toys or toys with small parts should always be kept out of reach from young children. Other items should be kept off the ground as much as possible to reduce the chance of a tripping or falling incident.

If a defective or dangerous toy does lead to an injury, parents may be able to hold the manufacturer responsible through a product liability lawsuit. Anyone who has questions about this issue should speak with a personal injury attorney in Virginia.