The same cells that power our good times are more and more often endangering our kids. Hidden inside many of their toys are these: coin-sized button batteries.
“A lot of the toys have them. They don’t have a safety mechanism so the kids can just pop open the back and the batteries are visible to the child,” says Sally Kreuscher, child advocate with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
From smaller than a dime to as large as a quarter, they look harmless enough to young children.
Nationwide almost 3,000 kids went to the emergency room last year after swallowing one. Serious injuries or deaths have quadrupled over the years. The pain is also being felt locally.
“In the past two years there were actually eight battery ingestions in Lee County and in Collier County there was 1 battery ingestion, so it is starting to be a trend,” says Kreuscher.
“This is a true emergency, the child should be seen for as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Carmen Garcia.
Dr. Garcia is an ER pediatrician with Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“Those larger ones tend to get stuck. And most of the times those are the ones we find in the esophagus, they don't go down all the way by themselves. Many times they need to be retrieved,” says Dr. Garcia.
Many toy makers now require a screwdriver to get at the battery. But toys are not the only problem.
The tiny batteries you never think about can present the biggest danger. Ones in car keys, garage remotes even hearing aides are frequent offenders.
“These things are found very readily in our environment, many different objects children have easy access to,” says Dr. Garcia.
It means empowering parents to keep button batteries out of prying little hands.