According to the National Capital Poison Center, more than 3,000 people of all ages in the U.S. unintentionally swallow miniature disc or “button” batteries used to power devices such as hearing aids, watches and calculators each year. Of these cases of battery ingestion, sixty-two percent involve children under the age of 5 years, with a peak incidence in 1- and 2-year-olds. Sadly, the most recent incident of a child swallowing a button-battery proved to be one the rare instances in which the accidental ingestion of a battery became fatal.
“Nearly half (49%) of ingested batteries are cells intended for hearing aids. Another 12% are for games and toys. Other sources include: watches and clocks; calculators; camera equipment; beeping or lighted key chains; pocket organizers; remote control devices; thermometers; phones; fishing bobbers; as well as musical, beeping or lighted jewelry, greeting cards, shoelaces, shoes, clothing, pens, doormats, and story books.”
This unfortunate tragedy serves as a reminder of how important it is to keep small batteries from being accessible to children. With so many toys and gadgets being powered by button-sized batteries, it’s crucial that parents do all they can to prevent accidents such as this from happening.
“A nearly 70% decline (over an 8-year period) in the percentage of ingested batteries that come from games and toys reflects industry efforts to secure the battery compartments of these products so that small children cannot easily open them.”
The good news, as the statistic above points out, is that cases of battery ingestion have been on a sharp decline over the past decade or so. The industry has gone a long way to implement preventative measures and manufacture batteries that are much safer than those that have been used in the past. With that being said, should an accidental battery ingestion occur, the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, DC operates a 24/7 hot line (202-625-3333) to assist when one of these button batteries is swallowed.