Safe Kids Chicago Joins National Effort to
Curb Growing Child Safety Threat
Today, cars start with the push of a button, books record our voices, candles flicker without a flame and thousands of electronics operate by remote control. To keep our gadgets small, slim and sleek, an ever-increasing number are powered by coin lithium batteries. However, because many of these devices are not designed for use by children, the battery compartments can be very easy to open. This creates a hidden danger — even in homes where safety is top of mind.
As use of coin-sized button batteries has become more widespread, so has the risk that a small child will swallow one. The number of cases where children have been seriously hurt or have died has more than quadrupled in the past five years (2006-2010) compared to the five years prior (2001-2005). In 2010 alone, there were more than 3,500 swallowing cases of all sizes and types of button batteries reported to U.S. poison control centers, according to Dr. Toby Litovitz of the National Capital Poison Center, an advisor to this effort. The most serious cases are associated with 20 mm diameter batteries, about the size of a nickel, because they can easily get stuck in a small child’s throat. Most often, the batteries children swallow have come out of remote control devices.
Basically, when a battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the saliva triggers an electrical current. This causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. Once the burning reaction begins, it can continue even after the battery is removed. Repairing the damage is painful and can require feeding tubes, breathing tubes and multiple surgeries. In some cases, children who swallowed button batteries have died.
Because of a growing severity of swallowing incidents, Safe Kids Chicago has partnered with “The Battery Controlled”, a new nationwide effort to raise awareness about this growing threat to children. Safe Kids Chicago will play a key role in community-based efforts, getting the word out locally and educating parents, caregivers, public health and safety professionals and healthcare providers on how best to prevent injuries.
“The Battery Controlled” is supported by Energizer in partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide, a leader in the field of child safety. The message is simple:
1. Keep button batteries and devices that use them out of reach if the battery compartments aren’t secure. Some parents have secured devices with strong tape.
2. If a child swallows a battery, go to the emergency room right away.
3. Tell others about this hidden danger.
Nationally, The Battery Controlled will share messages and tools to help keep children safe, healthy and out of the emergency room. The partnership also will work directly with electronics designers and manufacturers to discuss ways they can help address this problem. As a leader in the battery industry, Energizer has committed to introduce additional safety warnings and more secure packaging in 2012.
The threat is real, but often invisible, as these batteries are often inside compartments within electronic devices. In a recent study by The Battery Controlled, 66 percent of parents indicated they have not read, seen or heard anything about the risks of coin-sized button batteries, and 56 percent of parents said their children seem to like electronic devices more than their own toys.
Coin-sized button batteries are found in everyday devices such as:
· Mini remote control devices that unlock car doors and control portable DVD players and MP3 speakers
· Bathroom scales
· Reading lights
· Flameless candles
· Talking and singing books and greeting cards