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Community

January 14, 2012

Local Safe Kids group promotes coin-battery safety

Safe Kids USA and Energizer recently announced a partnership to share life-saving information with parents and caregivers about the potential risks of swallowing coin lithium batteries.

The coin-sized button batteries can lodge in the throats of children, Rich McCaffery, a community educator with Bassett Healthcare Network and Safe Kids of Otsego County, in a media release. The saliva immediately triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. In some cases, children have died from their injuries.

The formation of "The Battery Controlled" http://thebatterycontrolled.com/ by Safe Kids and Energizer highlights the issue and provides steps parents and caregivers can take.

Coin-sized button batteries, about the size of a nickel, are found in everyday devices such as mini remote control devices that unlock car doors and control mp3 speakers, calculators, bathroom scales, reading lights, flameless candles and talking and singing books and greeting cards.

The batteries are often inside compartments within electronic devices. However, because many of these devices are not children's toys, the battery compartments are often easy to open.

In a recent study by Energizer and Safe Kids USA, 66 percent of parents indicated they have not read, seen or heard anything about the risks of coin-sized button batteries and 58 percent of parents said their children seem to like electronic devices more than their own toys.

The findings are based on an online survey conducted among a national probability sample of 346 parents of children ages 6 and younger living in private households in the continental United States from Sept. 2 to 13.

The number of cases where children have been seriously hurt or have died has more than quadrupled in the past five years, 2006 to 2010, compared to the five years prior, according to the release. In 2010, there were more than 3,400 swallowing cases reported in the U.S., according to Dr. Toby Litovitz, of the National Capital Poison Center, who is an adviser to this effort. Most often, the batteries children swallow have come out of remote control devices.

For more information about this issue and other resources from Safe Kids of Otsego County, contact McCaffery at richard.mccaffery@bassett.org or 547-5256.

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