Batteries and child safety

     Dangers of Batteries:  Every 3 hours a child shows up in the emergency room after having swallowed a battery, or shoved it in their nose, mouth or ears.  Most of the batteries recovered are those flat, round batteries referred to as “button batteries.”  They look like a coin and are found in small devices such as remote controls, key fobs, children’s toys or watches.

     As a child safety measure, many devices that take regular AA or AAA style batteries require the batteries be secured in their compartment with a screw.   This is often not the case with “button batteries.”   They are usually not secured and are therefore accessible to children. 

     Safety Advice:  According to information reported on the Today show by Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the serious problem occurs when the battery becomes lodged in the esophagus.  The moisture sparks what he called a micro current, which “will lead to cell death and eventually burn a hole right through the esophagus.”  And all of this can happen within a short 2-hour period.  He goes on to say that if a parent is not sure but even suspects a child has swallowed one of these batteries they should be taken to the ER immediately.

     While there are no safety measures currently in place for childproofing these batteries, it is strongly recommended that parents take steps to secure the batteries themselves.  One way to do so would be to tape the battery compartment, and as always, if possible, keep the items out of children’s reach. 

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