Picture of button batteries. When you understand how button batteries injure children, you'll be better equip

One of the most dangerous items in your house is so small you rarely think about it. It’s not locked up, or placed where children can’t reach. Button batteries can be found in almost anything you own that is electronic, including your child’s toys. This article delves into how button batteries injure children and preventative measures you can take to protect your kids.

What are button batteries?

Button batteries, also known as coin cell batteries, are small, flat, and round batteries designed to power a wide range of electronic devices. They get their name from their shape, as they closely resemble small buttons or coins.

These batteries are commonly used in various everyday items such as toys, remote controls, hearing aids, watches, calculators, key fobs, and small electronic devices.

Why are button batteries so dangerous?

The potential danger lies in the fact that button batteries are small enough to be easily swallowed or inserted into bodily orifices. This poses a significant risk to children who are naturally curious and may put objects in their mouths.

When swallowed, these batteries can interact with bodily fluids, causing chemical reactions that may lead to severe injuries or even fatalities if not promptly detected and treated.

How Button Batteries Injure Children

Button batteries are usually made of lithium, which reacts with saliva and bodily fluids to generate an electrical current. When ingested or lodged in the body, the battery can discharge its stored energy, leading to tissue burning, chemical reactions, and severe internal injuries within just a few hours.

An elusive or delayed diagnosis

One of the most insidious aspects of button battery incidents is the lack of immediate symptoms. Your child may appear fine after swallowing a battery, which can cause a dangerous delay in seeking care. Misdiagnoses of common ailments, like the flu or gastrointestinal issues, can occur, leading to crucial delays in medical attention.

What Happens When A Child Swallows a Button Battery

Button batteries lodged in the esophagus can cause swelling, leading to obstruction. This can lead to choking hazards or respiratory distress, requiring urgent medical intervention. The longer a button battery remains in the body, the greater the risk of permanent damage or even fatality.

How You Can Keep Your Child Safe From Button Batteries

Prevention is key to avoiding button battery-related incidents and it doesn’t require you to toss all of your electronics! Here are some essential safety measures you can take:

Secure Battery Compartments: Ensure that all battery compartments in toys and devices are secure and require a tool or strong grip to open.

Keep Out of Reach: Store spare batteries in child-proof containers and keep them out of children’s reach.

Educate Children: Teach your children about the dangers of button batteries and discourage them from putting non food items in their mouths.

Supervise Playtime: Always supervise young children during playtime to prevent accidental ingestion.

Inspect Devices Regularly: Check toys and devices regularly for signs of damage or loose batteries, and discard worn-out devices responsibly.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Battery Ingestion

Sometimes a parent may be present when a child swallows a battery, but other times it happens when you don’t see it. Knowing the signs and symptoms of battery ingestion can clue you in that your child needs immediate help. Here are some things to look for:

Pain: Your child may experience pain in the chest or abdomen.

Drooling: Excessive drooling or saliva production may occur.

Difficulty Swallowing: Your child might have trouble swallowing food or liquids.

Change in Voice: Their voice may sound different or hoarse.

Coughing or Spitting of Blood: Coughing or spitting up blood may occur in severe cases.

Decreased Eating or Drinking: Your child may eat or drink less than usual.

Emergency room sign. Swallowing a button battery is a medical emergency that needs to be addressed immediately.

What To Do If Your Child Swallows A Button Battery

Call for Emergency Help: Dial your local emergency number (e.g., 911) or head to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately if you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery.

Inform Medical Staff: Let doctors and nurses know that your child may have ingested a lithium coin battery. Provide any relevant information about the incident.

Do Not Delay Emergency Care: Act promptly; any delay can increase the risk of serious complications.

Offer Honey: If you have honey available and your child is over 12 months old, and capable of swallowing liquids, administer 2 teaspoons of honey.

Do Not Induce Vomiting: Refrain from trying to induce vomiting. It can actually cause more harm.

Raising Awareness

Raising awareness about the dangers of button batteries is crucial. Parents, caregivers, educators, and medical professionals must work together to promote safety guidelines, advocate for stricter regulations on button battery design and packaging, and educate the public about the risks. Share this information with your friends and family to help protect your children and others.

Final Thoughts

Button batteries may seem insignificant, but their potential danger to children is real. As responsible parents, we can protect our kids from these silent threats. By taking preventive measures, advocating for safer battery designs, and fostering awareness, we can decrease the risks and ensure a safer environment for our children.

For more information on how to keep your kids safe, check out my article on hot cars and kids

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