Babies love to put things in their mouths. They crawl on the floor finding all sorts of things. Then when they find something exciting, they sit up and what’s often the first thing they do with their discovery? Put it […]
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Controlling Batteries by Keeping Children Away

by Jill Taylor on July 8, 2014

in Safety

batteryBabies love to put things in their mouths. They crawl on the floor finding all sorts of things. Then when they find something exciting, they sit up and what’s often the first thing they do with their discovery? Put it in their mouths.

If your baby finds an old cracker it’s not a big deal, but what if she finds a battery? Children can swallow foreign objects, but few are as deadly as swallowing a battery. Children under age 4 are most at risk, as they are still using their mouth to explore.

According to Safe Kids, each year in the United States more than 2,800 kids are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries. Jennifer Watson is the Community Education Specialist with the Central Texas Poison Center at Scott & White. She offers some tips about keeping kids safe from batteries.

Battery Basics

In order to understand why you should keep your batteries away from children, consider some battery basics.  A battery is essentially a can full of chemicals that produce electrons and power items.

Alkaline batteries are a common sight in most households. AA, AAA, 9-volt batteries, and C and D batteries are all alkaline batteries. They are seen in a number of items, last a long time and are convenient to use.  Another type of batteries is “coin” or lithium button batteries. These are more common in smaller, slimmer and sleeker items.

Alkaline batteries contain acidic liquids, gels or pastes, depending on the variety of battery. These acidic cores are surrounded by several layers of insulation and then the outside case of the battery keeps them sealed. These can be dangerous to your skin or eyes, especially if they leak or burst. Coin lithium button batteries can cause severe injuries when swallowed. They can get stuck in your child’s throat and cause severe burns.

Watson says The Dallas Poison Center did an experiment recently, where they placed a lithium battery inside a piece of hotdog.

“A short time later, they could smell it cooking and hear it sizzling,” says Watson. “The danger comes from a child swallowing the battery and it getting lodged in the child’s esophagus or other tissues.  It then will begin to “cook” the area surrounding the battery and this leads to severe medical issues.”

Where Batteries Hide

On toys, there are safety standards dictated by law. Most of the toys on batteries should be inaccessible for young kids. This is why there is often a tricky screw or hiding place for batteries. However, most of the accidents that occur with children and batteries are from devices not meant for children.

“Keep all items with batteries that are not secured out of reach of small children,” says Watson.

Watson points out a few places batteries are hiding, that you may not realize:

  • Remote car alarms
  • Garage door opener
  • Radio remote control
  • Greeting cards that play music
  • Miniature lights
  • Calculators
  • Thermometers
  • Digital scales
  • Remotes
  • PCs and laptops
  • Cell phones
  • Mp3 players

“These items are not required to be secured because they are not toys,” says Watson. “Children can gain access to these batteries easily.”

Tips for Keeping Kids Away from Batteries

  • Find a high place for storing extra batteries.
  • When replacing batteries, make sure to dispose of old batteries where children can’t get them.
  • Always secure batteries with the screws and safety measures in place.
  • If a protective covering breaks off, fix with tape.
  • Pay attention to what children put in their mouths.
  • Keep all items with coin lithium batteries out of sight
  • Teach your children and other caregivers about the dangers of batteries.
  • Battery proof and poison proof your house.
  • If your child swallows a battery, take them to the nearest emergency room, immediately.
  • If you have more questions about batteries, contact your pediatrician, local poison control center for free 800-222-1222, or the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333.

For more information about the dangers of batteries, visit The Battery Controlled.

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