Deadly batteries: Number of serious button battery incidents still not decreasing1:05 AM
Fatal and serious button battery incidents are still not decreasing.
“We pulled out all the stops after we first alerted the public and healthcare providers about the deadly dangers of button batteries” Toby Litovitz, MD, Executive & Medical Director of the National Capital Poison Center (poison.org) home of the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202-625-3333), said. “Industry stepped up and made battery packaging child-resistant. UL implemented standards to secure the battery compartments of battery powered media devices, followed by additional standards covering other household electronics. Safety and medical groups issued warnings and a national Button Battery Task Force was founded to promote injury prevention. But still, six years after initially sounding the alarm, there’s no indication that the hazard is diminishing.”
“These are tragic, disastrous cases that are so difficult to treat“ Litovitz said. “The trickiest part is that batteries stuck in the esophagus must be removed within just two hours to prevent terrible injuries. That’s especially challenging when no one saw the child swallow a battery.”
In most cases, the “bad actor” is a 20 mm lithium coin cell, just a bit larger than a penny.
Litovitz said, "The latter is remarkable because we turn to these for a presumably safer alternative to an open flame."
“In 54% of cases involving lithium coin cells swallowed by children under age 6, the child has removed the battery from the electronic device. The problem is that most parents are not even aware when it happens,“ Litovitz said.
Litovitz said, "We must find a way to protect children from this deadly hazard. Engineers are working to overcome the technical hurdles and develop a safer battery. Until then, it’s up to parents to be certain batteries are kept out of reach and all products in the home have a secure battery compartment. It’s up to the industry to secure product closures. And it’s up to parents and healthcare providers alike to suspect battery ingestions so batteries can be removed from the esophagus quickly, before serious damage is done."TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUNG CHILDREN:
Prevent an ingestion. Keep batteries out of reach.
Be especially cautious with any battery or battery-powered product that contains a battery that’s the size of a penny or larger. (A penny is 19 mm in diameter.)
Batteries are everywhere.
Ingestion of a battery is a medical emergency.
Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 (U.S.) for immediate and expert help if a battery is swallowed. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7 to assist at no charge.
About the National Capital Poison Center
The National Capital Poison Center, founded in 1980, is an independent, private, not-for-profit organization and an accredited poison center. Its nurse and pharmacist Certified Specialists in Poison Information provide 24/7 telephone guidance for poison emergencies, free of charge. It also provides online guidance for poison emergencies through the webPOISONCONTROL® tool (webpoisoncontrol.org), health professional education in toxicology, and poison prevention education. Service focuses on the metro DC area with a national scope for projects such as webPOISONCONTROL, the National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202-625-3333), and The Poison Post®.