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Be Prepared: Tiny Batteries Pose Risk of Death to Children

Tuesday, November 28, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

Tiny button batteries power everything from toys and electronics to remote control devices for TVs and DVDs. But they pose an extreme risk for young children who tend to put things in their mouths. Apart from the choking risk, tiny coin lithium batteries can cause serious injury or death to a child through tissue burns of internal organs if swallowed or placed in the nose or mouth.

Over 3,500 people a year of all ages are reported to have swallowed button batteries and in most cases they pass through the body. But for others, especially small children, they can get stuck in the esophagus and an electrical current can form in the body that produces hydroxide, an alkaline chemical, that can cause fatal tissue burns.  

In 2009, a toddler in Colorado swallowed a button battery that she removed from a hand-held game. While doctors were able to remove the battery, she died two weeks later after severe erosion of her esophagus and aorta. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has called for the electronics and battery industries to develop industry safety standards and warnings related to button batteries.

These are some tips for parents to help avoid the possibility of a child swallowing a button battery:

  • Look for any and all button batteries that may be present in your home, considering toys belonging to older children as well;
  • Place all toys and devices with button batteries out of the reach of small children;
  • When possible, buy batteries that are in child-resistant safety packaging.

If you believe your child may have swallowed a battery, emergency medical care is advised. In addition, follow these tips:

  • Call the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202) 625-3333;
  • If you know which battery your child may have swallowed, provide the battery identification number from the package or from another identical battery;
  • Don’t try to get your child to vomit as this could cause additional damage;
  • If you suspect that your child put a battery in his nose or ear, do not use ear or nose drops. Watch for pain or discharge;
  • Watch out for fever, vomiting, bloody stools or abdominal pain.

In most cases, an X-ray will be required to determine if the battery is lodged in the esophagus or if it has passed into the stomach. If it remains in the esophagus it must be removed immediately.

Taking these precautions can help to ensure that your family never suffers a preventable tragedy in your home. Yet sometimes accidents occur as a result of the negligence of others or products that are defective. If you or a loved one were injured by someone else’s negligence or by a defective product, Alexander Law Group, LLC can help. Call us now at 888.777.1776 or click here for a private, no cost consultation regarding your rights.

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