Deadly batteries: Number of serious button battery incidents still not decreasing
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fatal and serious button battery incidents are still not decreasing. Data from the National Battery Ingestion Hotline for the 2-year period ending June 2016 show a rising number of button battery injuries caused by flameless candles. Last year more than 3,100 people swallowed button batteries. More than 1,900 were children. At least 20 fatal or major cases were in children younger than 6 years.
"We pulled out all the stops after we first alerted the public and healthcare providers about the deadly dangers of button batteries" says Toby Litovitz, MD, Executive & Medical Director of the National Capital Poison Center, home of the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202-625-3333). "Industry stepped up and made battery packaging child-resistant. UL implemented standards to secure the battery compartments of battery powered media devices, followed by additional standards covering other household electronics. Safety and medical groups issued warnings and a national Button Battery Task Force was founded to promote injury prevention. But still, six years after initially sounding the alarm, there's no indication that the hazard is diminishing."
"These are tragic, disastrous cases that are so difficult to treat" states Toby Litovitz about swallowed button batteries. "The trickiest part is that batteries stuck in the esophagus must be removed within just two hours to prevent terrible injuries. In most cases, the "bad actor" is a 20 mm lithium coin cell, just a bit larger than a penny. It is commonly used because of its energy density and long shelf life. National Battery Ingestion Hotline data show where and how the swallowed 20 mm lithium coin cells were mainly used over the past 2 years: 25% for remote controls, 15% for lights, and 14% for flameless candles.
Litovitz: "We must find a way to protect children from this deadly hazard. Engineers are working to overcome the technical hurdles and develop a safer battery. Until then, it's up to parents to be certain batteries are kept out of reach and all products in the home have a secure battery compartment. It's up to industry to secure product closures. And it's up to parents and healthcare providers alike to suspect battery ingestions so batteries can be removed from the esophagus quickly, before serious damage is done."
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SOURCE National Capital Poison Center