Children learn through exploring but sometimes natural curiosity can turn deadly. Button batteries pose a particular threat, as they do not have the appearance of a typical battery. Curious kids may not be aware they are dangerous items. Since button batteries are often used for hearing aids, small children, especially those who are hearing impaired,can get ahold of them quite easily. A child could see the small silver circular battery and think nothing of it when putting it in their mouth.
Each year in the United States, more than 2,800 kids are treated in emergency rooms for swallowing button batteries, which translates to one child every three hours. The number of deaths related to button batteries has been increasing immensely in the last decade.
Once a battery is stuck in the throat, even if it is dead, there can be just enough juice left to set up a current when it comes in contact with the moist tissues inside the human body. This can lead to holes being burned through the esophagus, trachea or stomach.
Specialists in the electronic industry are constantly working with health professionals to develop safer packaging, more warning labels, and to create smaller batteries that won’t get caught inside the body. Improvements are ongoing, but until the risk is removed, parents should be particularly vigilant about these small batteries.
A few tips to keep your children safe:
- Keep batteries out of sight and reach of children!
- Keep loose batteries locked up or even place a piece of duct tape over your electronic devices to prevent small children from retrieving the battery.
- Call the National Battery Ingestion 24 Hour Hotline (202-625-3333) for additional treatment information.
Don’t underestimate the danger of button batteries; while necessary for hearing aids, they are small but deadly. If you have any questions or concerns related to your children or yourself, the staff and doctors at Alexandria Otolaryngology Associates are here to help.