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Parents Urged to Keep Button Batteries Out of Kids’ Reach

In March we published an article regarding the choking hazards posed to children that swallow “Buckyballs,” or small, round magnets from an adult stress-relieving desk toy.  Now, health officials are targeting a new choking hazard for children – “button batteries.”

“Button batteries” are common, coin-sized batteries that are found throughout the house.  These batteries are found in electronic games and toys, flashlights, calculators, remote controls, key fobs and even in electronic greeting cards.  Unfortunately, children find the small, shiny objects appealing and are swallowing the batteries, holding them in their mouths, or inserting them in their ear canal or nasal cavity.

According to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, an estimated 65,788 patients under 18-years-old have visited a hospital emergency room due to a battery-related exposure incident between 1990 and 2009.  That equates to nearly 3,289 battery-related emergency room visits annually.

An article in Reuters Health reports that the batteries can become lodged in a child’s esophagus and push against its walls. Older batteries can potentially leak acid damaging the tissue in the child’s throat and esophagus. There is also a potential that the battery will generate an electrical current flowing through tissue and burn a hole in the trachea or the esophagus.  This can occur even with batteries that have been discarded after being deemed “dead.”

Fortunately, however, according to the study, 92 percent of the children who came to the emergency room were treated and released.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that many times parents don’t realize that a child swallowed the battery and discount their symptoms as just a temporary illness.  A child that has swallowed a battery that begins to leak will have symptoms similar to a common viral illness, or potentially none at all.  However, it takes just two hours for serious damage to result.

CPSC recommends the following steps to prevent unintentional battery ingestion:

  • Keep remotes and other electronics out of your child’s reach if the battery compartments do not have a screw to secure them. Tape may be used to help secure the battery compartment.
  • Keep button batteries out of your child’s reach. Discard button batteries carefully.
  • Do not allow children to play with button batteries.
  • Never put button batteries in your mouth for any reason; they are slippery and easily swallowed accidentally.
  • Always check medications before ingesting them. Adults have swallowed batteries mistaken for pills or tablets.
  • Caution hearing aid users to keep hearing aids and batteries out of the reach of children.

Our Pennsylvania product liability attorneys encourage all parents and adults to follow the CPSC’s advice and to keep a close watch on the potential for small, lithium batteries to fall into your young child’s hands.  If you believe your child has swallowed a battery, do not hesitate to take him or her to the nearest emergency room.  Immediate care may make the difference in the recovery of your child.

About Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys

Munley Law is a Pennsylvania accident and injury law firm that represents car accident victims and their families throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, including those injured in accidents that involve speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, aggressive driving and careless driving in hazardous weather conditions. The Pennsylvania personal injury law firm’s additional practice areas include trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, toxic chemicals, workplace injuries, nursing home litigation and other serious accidents. To contact the law firm, use the firm’s online contact form.

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