Coin-sized Batteries a Deadly Danger to Kids


Toys, remotes, car keys, hearing aids, tiny flashlights, calculators, watches... so many gadgets have the little coin-sized disc lithium batteries. To a small child these look like little shiny candies! Each year there are about 6,000 children treated in emergency rooms for swallowing disc batteries, and a few of them die from the damage which is caused by them.

Similar to Drinking Drano

While it is true that batteries contain corrosive material, most lithium disc batteries do not leak! It's actually the electic current from the battery that causes the problems. Even a supposedly "dead" battery can produce a slight current, which can convert normal saliva in the esophagus into corrosive lye (NaOH). In a matter of hours, a battery stuck in the esophagus can become a medical emergency equivalent to a Drano ingestion. If your child may have swallowed a disc battery, minutes are vitally important. You should call 911, and get xrays as quickly as possible. Removing the battery in time could save your child's life.

Fortunately greeting card batteries are usually not lithium, and are not as dangerous. However, even these batteries can become lodged in the esophagus or throat, and may need to be removed to prevent serious damage.

Prevention is the best approach! Make sure remotes and battery-run gadgets are securely fastened, and don't store extra batteries where children can get to them.

For help, call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333. For info on how to recycle old button batteries, go to www.earth911.com

© Rick Voakes 1999, Health-bytes LOGO  by Rie Cramer