Of Hexbugs and Buttons
It used to be that the end of Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the holiday season, but, as I was reminded by Jingle Bells blaring while shopping this weekend, it has now jumped to the day after Halloween. Hard to get into the holiday mood with the leaves still changing, but I guess the retailers need all the help they can get. We at ChildSafetyBlog.org will try to get into the spirit with our first holiday season post.
This morning, I was replacing the batteries in one of my son's favorite toys - Hexbugs. As I unscrewed the cover, I was disappointed to find it used a button battery. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, because they are so small that nothing else could probably fit. Still, it worried me that these tiny, shiny batteries are making it into more and more toys, because they are quite dangerous for children.
Last year, Marianne wrote a short piece cautioning parents and caregivers about these coin-sized (and smaller) batteries that power everything from watches to led flashlights to hearing aids. A recent study by Dr. Toby Litovitz of the National Capital Poison Control Center found "button battery-related incidents resulting in severe injury and fatality have increased sevenfold since 1985." Data show that most choking incidents with button batteries involve children under the age of four. While a button battery, if swallowed, usually may pass through the intestine, the problem is not only the possibility of choking. If the battery becomes lodged in the throat or intestine, it can produce and release hydroxide and cause dangerous chemical burns.
So, with the holiday season approaching and family and friends purchasing gift toys and technology items that use these batteries, we are again raising the red flag on "button" batteries for parents and caregivers.
Here are some tips offered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and ChildSafetyblog.org that parents and caregivers can use to make sure children do not unintentionally ingest button batteries:
· If you use button batteries at all, please make sure to dispose of them carefully.
· Do not allow children to play with button batteries, and keep button batteries out of your child's reach.
· Check the toys your children receives over the holidays for the kinds of batteries that are used.
· Caution hearing aid users to keep hearing aids and batteries out of the reach of children.
· Never put button batteries in your or anyone else's mouth for any reason as they are easily accidentally swallowed. You need to set an example for your children. (Some children think button batteries look like candy.)
· Always check medications before ingesting them. Adults have swallowed button batteries, too, mistaking them for pills or tablets.
· Keep remotes and other electronic gadgets out of your child's reach if the battery compartments do not have a screw to secure them. Use tape to help secure the battery compartment.
· If a button battery is ingested, immediately seek medical attention. The National Battery Ingestion Hotline is available anytime at (202) 625-3333 (call collect if necessary), or call you're the National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.
Meanwhile, from all of us at ChildSafetyBlog.org, have a safe and happy ramp-up to the holiday season!