Button batteries are often found in children’s toys, remote controls, watches and key fobs. Safe to say, you probably have at least one in your home.
But did you know how dangerous button batteries can be for babies and toddlers? If one is ingested, sometimes a child won't even show symptoms. And a reaction can happen in as little as two hours.
Beyond the choking hazard, it’s possible that the battery can corrode inside a body, resulting in internal bleeding from the burning caused by the battery mixing with bodily fluids.
And that’s exactly what happened to George Decebal Asan, who lost his 2-year-old daughter Francesca in May 2016.
Asan wants to stop the same thing from happening to other children.
He made a video with the Child Accident Prevention Trust, the UK’s leading charity that works to reduce the number of children and young people who are killed, disabled or seriously injured in accidents.
“Not many people are aware of the dangers of button batteries,” said Ashley Pugh, a medical expert who is featured in the video.
Kristin McCarthy, of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, demonstrated how easy it would be for a baby or a toddler to find a digital thermometer somewhere, such as a changing table.
McCarthy popped off the back part of the device and showed how the battery was exposed quickly and easily.
“She was full of life,” Asan said of his daughter. “What happened to Francesca proved that you can’t be always around. You can’t have eyes everywhere. And you can’t take that basic freedom of exploring from a toddler. That makes them a toddler.”
When the family learned that a button battery was the culprit in the 2-year-old’s death, Asan said he went to a cabinet and found the 3-D glasses for the TV. It was one of the spare batteries, in the original box of the glasses, that killed his daughter, he said, according to published reports.
The CAPT group’s website goes on to explain the dangers associated with button batteries.
“If a button battery, particularly a lithium button battery, gets stuck in the throat or gullet, energy from the battery can react with saliva to make the body create caustic soda," the site said. "This is the same chemical used to unblock drains. This can burn a hole through the throat and can lead to serious internal bleeding and death. The reaction can happen in as little as two hours.”
CAPT warns that there might be no symptoms after a child ingests one:
"The lack of clear symptoms means it may not be obvious that your child has swallowed a button battery until it’s too late. This is why it is important to be vigilant with spare button batteries in the home and the products that contain them.”
If a child is showing symptoms, those might include tiredness, loss of appetite, pain or nausea.
If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, you must act quickly. Here's what the CAPT website recommends:
--Take the child immediately to a local hospital or dial 911 for an ambulance.
--Tell the doctor that you think your child has swallowed a button battery.
--If you have the battery packaging or the product powered by the battery, take it with you. This will help the doctor identify the type of battery and will make treatment easier.
--Do not let your child eat or drink.
--Do not force a child to vomit.
--Trust your instincts. Do not wait to see if symptoms develop.