(12/11/12) – According to Safe Kids, swallowing cases resulting in serious injury or death to children have more than quadrupled in the past five years (2006-2010) compared to the five years prior (2001-2005).
In 2010 alone, there were more than 3,400 reported swallowing cases involving button batteries of all sizes, resulting in 19 life-threatening or debilitating injuries and even some deaths, according to Dr. Toby Litovitz, of the National Capital Poison Center.
Coin-sized button batteries, approximately the size of a nickel, are found in everyday devices such as mini remote control devices that unlock car doors and control MP3 speakers, calculators, bathroom scales, reading lights, flameless candles, talking and singing books and greeting cards.
These batteries are extremely dangerous if swallowed and are often "invisible" to consumers, as they come already inserted in devices. However, because many of these devices are not children’s toys, the battery compartments are easy to open. Small children often have easy access to these devices and enjoy playing with them.
If a coin-sized button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the saliva triggers an electrical current. It takes as little as two hours to cause severe burns, and damage can continue even after the battery is removed.
Children can still breathe with the coin lithium battery in their throats, so it may not be obvious at first that something is wrong. Repairing the damage is painful and can require multiple surgeries.
Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal offers the following safety tips to protect children from battery-related injuries:
• SEARCH your home and any place your child goes, for gadgets that may contain coin lithium batteries.
• SECURE coin lithium battery-controlled devices out of sight and reach of children and keep loose batteries locked away.
• SHARE this life-saving information with caregivers, friends, family members and sitters.
In Case of an Emergency
Keeping these batteries out of reach and secured in devices is key, but if a child swallows a battery, parents and caregivers should follow these steps:
• Go to the nearest Emergency Department immediately. Tell doctors and nurses that your child may have swallowed a battery. If possible, provide the medical team with the identification number found on the battery’s package.
• Do not let the child eat or drink until a chest X-ray can determine if a battery is present.
• Do not induce vomiting.
For more information on battery safety, please call Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal at (843) 777-5021 to speak to an Injury Prevention Specialist or visit www.McLeodSafeKids.org.
Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal, led by McLeod Health, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading cause of death in children 14 and under. Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal is funded in part by the McLeod Health Foundation.