The Hidden Risk of Batteries

Adults don’t really see much menace in batteries. They’re just a necessary power source in the many electronic devices that can be found throughout the average American home. Children, on the other hand, don’t care about what batteries do. They simply see an intriguing, and possibly delicious, bite-sized object.

More and more household items now require batteries — everything from your toothbrush to your clock, your face cleaning appliance to your collection of remote controls run on batteries. Because of this, battery-related injuries in children are also becoming more common. This is especially true of button batteries. Button batteries are those silver, disc-shaped batteries that are found in things such as thermometers, remote controls, calculators, keys, games, pedometers, and cameras. These batteries range in size, but they are all potentially dangerous to curious children.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over 3,000 batteries are ingested by American children each year. When you consider how common batteries have become, a child’s curious nature, and the allure of a small shiny object, it makes perfect sense why there are so many ER visits due to children swallowing batteries. This is, however, a very serious matter that can result in major injury or even death.

What type of damage can occur from swallowing a battery?

Button batteries can cause significant damage to the surrounding tissues in as little as 2 hours. The electric current produced by batteries increases the pH levels in the body, which can cause permanent damage to body tissues, and can even result in death.

What should you do if your child swallows a battery?

If you see your child swallow a battery, you should take them to the emergency room immediately. Unfortunately, a parent might not always see the moment when their child swallows a battery, and that child might not tell his or her parents, whether through choice or inability. Swallowing a battery can result in the same symptoms as a common infection, or no symptoms at all, making it difficult for parents and medical professionals alike to determine what the problem is. If you know that your child has swallowed a battery, or suspect that they may have swallowed a battery, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.

Of course, the best way to help your child is by preventing them from swallowing batteries in the first place.Teach your children about batteries and explain that they should never be played with. Make sure that toys keep batteries secured, and keep electronic devices with batteries that are easily removed out of reach of small children.