Urgent warning to parents after child is killed by button battery

Urgent warning to parents after child is killed by button battery

The small round batteries, which are commonly found in toys, remote controls and car fobs, can cause chemical burns if they come into contact with nose and mouth.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has issued a warning after a child swallowed a button battery and died earlier this year.

The safety body said the danger begins as soon as the battery comes into contact with a wet surface, such as in the oesophagus, nose or ear.

This causes the battery to start to discharge its "current" and begin a chemical reaction, causing significant damage to the surrounding tissue.

Within a couple of hours, serious internal burns can occur in the upper chest region, leading to long-term problems with breathing and swallowing – and even death.

If a child is thought to have swallowed one, they should be taken to A&E immediately.

The safety body warned that small children are at higher risk due to their tendency to put things in their mouths, and people should be particularly vigilant to button batteries with a diameter of 20mm or more as they are more likely to get stuck in the throat.

More information on button batteries and their dangers can be found on the Child Accident Prevention Trust website.

HSIB medical director Dr Kevin Stewart said: "These batteries pose a very real risk to small children and babies, and the consequences of swallowing a button battery can be truly devastating.

"This is why we are calling on families this festive period to be extra vigilant and to put in place some basic precautions around their house.

"It's important that everybody knows that these batteries can be found everywhere, from toys to gadgets such as remote controls, digital scales and car fobs.

"The best way to protect children is to place everything securely out of reach and double check that all toys have screws to secure any batteries."

Dr Rachel Rowlands, of Leicester Royal Infirmary, said the batteries can cause fatal injuries even if they do not have enough charge to power a device, so it is important they are disposed of appropriately.

"I would urge everyone this Christmas to be aware of the dangers button batteries can cause if swallowed or put into the nose or ear," she added.

"Parents or carers should bring their child to the nearest emergency department immediately if they think a child has swallowed or inserted a button battery."

Katrina Phillips, chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, said: "Festive tea lights, singing Santas and flashing Christmas wands are all powered by lithium coin cell batteries, many of them easily accessible to curious little fingers.

"We're concerned that small children put everything in their mouths, with potentially lethal consequences.

"We're encouraging families to keep potentially dangerous products out of reach of babies, toddlers and small children, and to be equally careful about where they store spare and used batteries."

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