In our technological world, electronic devices are getting smaller, slimmer and sleeker. The means to power these sleek devices are also small – but dangerous. Button batteries are used to power mini remote controls, small calculators, watches, key fobs, flameless candles and musical greeting cards.These small items are just the right size for small hands to pick up and take apart.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2012, almost 3,000 button battery swallowing cases were reported for children 19 and younger in the U.S., resulting in serious injuries and in some cases, deaths. It’s no surprise that children 4 and younger are at the greatest risk.
You may think that swallowing button batteries is a choking hazard, and while that is one potential injury – more often children can be burned. When a button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat; the saliva triggers an electrical current causing a chemical reaction. In as little as two hours, severe damage can be caused. Once burning starts, damage can continue even after the battery is removed, typically by surgery.
The challenge with button batteries it that it’s not always obvious one has been swallowed. In many cases, kids can still breathe with a coin lithium battery in their throat. Symptoms of button battery ingestion may be similar to other childhood illnesses associated with the cold or flu, such as coughing, drooling and discomfort.
I you suspect a battery has been swallowed, take your child to the emergency room immediately!
Here are a few battery safety tips from Safe Kids Worldwide:
- SEARCH your home, and any place your child goes, for gadgets that may contain button batteries.
- SECURE button battery-powered devices out of sight and reach of children. Keep loose batteries locked away. To secure the battery in a television remote control, a simple fix is to put a large piece of duct tape over the controller to prevent small children from accessing the battery.
- PUT the National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202-625-3333) into your phone. Hopefully you’ll never need to call it, but in case you do, you can call anytime for additional treatment information.
- SHARE this life-saving information with caregivers, friends, family members and sitters. Together, we can all make a difference in keeping children safe.