Transcript - Button Batteries

Every three hours a child is treated in an emergency room after swallowing a button battery. That startling statistic is a recent nine-fold increase in button battery related injuries and death. What’s even more alarming is that most parents don’t even know what a button battery is!

These small lithium batteries pop up in common household items such as remote controls, key fobs, watches, calculators, flashlights, hearing aids, bathroom scales, even musical greeting cards. So even though the Consumer Product Safety Commission requires batteries to not be accessible in toys intended for kids under 12, they can still be accessed through everyday products.

Ingesting a button battery is even more dangerous than you might think. When a button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the saliva triggers an electrical current, causing a chemical reaction that can burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. This can lead to chronic breathing problems and infections or can cause kids to choke or bleed to death.

We spoke to Dr. David Molter, Pediatric Otolaryngologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and he says the first step is preventing their availability to children.

“So the first thing that a parent can do from a standpoint to prevention is making sure that the button batteries aren't available to the child. And about 60% of the time in folks that do have an injury the battery came out of a device. About 30% of the time the battery is already out of the device and lying on a counter or some place that’s accessible to the child and about 10% of the time the batteries actually in the package that in which it was purchased.”

To aid injury prevention, parents and caregivers should make themselves aware of the presence of each button battery in the household and monitor it closely. Keeping batteries out of the reach of children is strongly advised. Experts have even gone as far as suggesting to keep spare button batteries in a locked cabinet with other poisons.

Even if you’ve taken the necessary precautions to keeping your child safe…accidents happen. And there are signs or symptoms a parent can look out for. If you did not witness your child swallow a battery, it may be difficult to distinguish symptoms because they tend to be similar to the flu. This includes vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, respiratory distress, and difficulty swallowing.

“difficulty swallowing would be the primary one, there’s some other very non specific symptoms, I mean you could have a fever and pain associated with this but certainly most children that are having fever and pain are going to be having a viral illness or an infection of sorts not necessarily having a swallowing injury. So this is another situation where if you um if you notice that a toy has the back off and the battery is missing so you may not have directly seen the aspiration um but if you were to see that a device is open and you don’t know where the battery is your obliged to try to find that battery and if you cant then that would be another reason to bring the child in for an x-ray.”

If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery do not wait. Immediately rush your child to the emergency room. Serious side effects can emerge in less than two hours.

I'm Alexis Phillips for Legal News Network -- your source for safety information.

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