Because babies love to put everything they can straight into their mouths, parents must be vigilant about keeping harmful items out of reach. But according to experts, there is likely something harmful – even deadly – within reach of your child right now and you don’t even realize it.
This dangerous item may be lurking inside the remote control device on your coffee table. It might be in that cool new gadget you got for your birthday or the musical greeting card that accompanied it. It’s a lithium cell disc battery and, in the hands of a child, it could be deadly.
Those tiny little button batteries have been around for ages and kids have been swallowing them for just about as long. But these days, button batteries are more powerful than ever and kids who swallow them are at risk for more than a choking incident. When ingested, they can cause a chemical reaction inside the body that can burn vocal chords and the gastrointestinal tract. And the damage can be done in as little as two hours.
Of particular concern are lithium cell disc batteries that begin with the number 20. More powerful than older models, those numbered 2032, 2025 and 2016 are responsible for more than 90 percent of serious battery-related injuries. Most frightening is the fact that in most cases, children who ingested these batteries didn’t find them laying loose somewhere in the home. 60% of the kids under the age of six who swallowed one had removed it themselves from the battery compartment of the device in which it was installed.
While federal law requires batteries in toys to be secured behind a plate that can only be opened with a screwdriver, the ones in most other common household gadgets are easily accessible by anyone – including a curious child.
Dr. Toby Litovitz, director and lead author of two studies on the subject, says that along with the proliferation of these stronger batteries must come more safety regulations. While he advocates for industry changes in the way battery compartments are configured, he is also trying to spread the word to parents who may not realize the danger button cell batteries pose.
I had no idea and was heartbroken to read of parents who lost a child to something so small, so seemingly insignificant. Spread the word.
Image: James Bowe/Flickr
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