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Button Batteries Can Burn and Kill

February 18th, 2015 | by admin admin | in Safety Advice |    0   comments

baby_remote.jpgEight-month-old Devon Hacche, New Zealand, will never speak and may never breathe on his own again. All because he swallowed a shiny button battery in December. The battery lodged in his esophagus and reacted with his saliva to create caustic soda.

"That causes a burn through the oesophagus, the feeding tube, and that can then burn through into major blood vessels and that's why the bleeding is then pretty much impossible to control and stop,” says UK pediatrician Dr. Kate Parkins. She spoke out in October 2014 after two Manchester children died and five more were seriously injured by swallowing button batteries.

Since December, Devon has undergone five operations to treat the burns to his feeding tube, breathing tube and vocal chords, and to repair the five-centimetre hole left by the battery.

Tragic accidents like Devon’s are why the Government of Canada focused on button batteries during International Product Safety Week in June 2014. Since 2006, the small, coin-shaped batteries have led to 65 emergency room visits in Canada per year. Unfortunately, treatment often comes too late. An ingested button cell battery can cause severe burns in two hours.

Children under five are especially likely to pop the small batteries into their mouth because they look like candy. Even adults, seniors in particular, mistake button batteries for pills or accidentally swallow one they’re holding with their teeth.

In the US, where more than 3,000 ingestions occur every year, researchers have developed a “quantum tunneling composite” (QTC) coating to make batteries pressure sensitive. With this special coating, along with waterproof sealant, button batteries will stay dry and only work when squeezed firmly. Since moisture creates the devastating corrosion, this technological advance may prevent future accidents.

Button batteries--commonly found in greeting cards, talking books, hearing aids, remote controls, electronic games and toys, gadgets and many other household items—are likely scattered throughout your home. Here are some safety tips to protect your family:

  • Make sure any button batteries are well secured. For example, look for battery compartments that are screwed closed.
  • Always supervise children when they use products containing button batteries.
  • Do not allow children to play with or remove button batteries.
  • Do not mix button batteries in with any pills, medicine or food. Ensure a child cannot pull them out of the trash.

Most importantly, if you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, act fast! Go straight to a hospital emergency ward.

To learn more about battery safety, visit Health Canada’s Battery Safety page.


Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, we encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.

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