Lithium Button Batteries: A Growing Danger For Children
The number of children dying from swallowing small, coin-sized lithium batteries is rising rapidly as the number of consumer products containing the dangerous button batteries is increasing sharply. While Most small battery-run products did not use lithium batteries even 20 years ago, now about 20 percent of all small battery-run household items contain the small, potentially deadly disc-shaped power sources. Sadly, the vast majority of toddler deaths from lithium batteries has come in the last six years.
The National Poison Data System and the National Battery Ingestion Hotline report that of 8,6000 lithium battery swallowing cases they have recorded, most take place when a child takes a battery out of a product, though some find the loose batteries or take the batteries from original packaging.
Children under the age of four are susceptible to swallowing the batteries, which can be lodged in the esophagus. Unlike other small choking hazards, lithium batteries can burn through the child’s flesh and cause very serious injury or death within hours of consumption. Parents may not even know to rush their child to the emergency room after they have swallowed the round batteries – though symptoms of vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, and flu-like complaints could tip parents off.
What can parents do to protect their children from swallowing button lithium batteries?
• Do an inventory of products in your household that contain lithium button batteries, including watches, remote controls, scales, singing greeting cards, and DVD players. Make sure you know where all of your batteries are located. • If a lithium battery is easy to access in a consumer product, cover the area tightly with tape and keep the product out of reach of children under four. • When you dispose of batteries, make sure they are out of the reach of children or contain them in something so that they are not loose. • Supervise your young children closely. • Put pressure on electronic companies to secure batteries in their products with a screw-on battery compartment.