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Button batteries a danger to small children

Tiny, button-sized batteries are a danger parents with small children may or not be aware of. In response to increasing reports of small children swallowing such batteries and getting seriously injured, Energizer and other battery makers are taking steps to prevent such incidents.

The popular lithium batteries are used in everything from watches and hearing aids to remote controls and toys.

According to a recent report from the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40,000 kids were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to swallowing batteries between 1997 and 2010. The coin-size, button batteries can cause choking, internal burns and, sometimes, death.

Energizer announced this week that it is making its packaging more child-resistant and adding new warnings icons and stickers to its packaging and batteries, reminding parents to keep batteries out of the reach of children.

Other major battery companies are also working to make things safer. Duracell also has added new icons and warnings and has plans to improve packaging, according to a company representative. A representative for Panasonic, another major battery maker, said the company does not sell button batteries directly to consumers, but it does sell many products that contain them and has made all the battery compartments in those products child resistant.

All these steps are positive ways to help prevent children swallowing batteries. Unfortunately, children will still get their hands on them. A study published in Pediatrics magazine in 2010 found that kids who swallowed them got the batteries out of devices almost two-thirds of the time. Only 8 percent of cases involved kids getting the batteries directly out of packages.

Because of this, CPSC officials are asking companies to voluntarily make battery compartments harder to open and legislation is in the works to make it mandatory.

But no matter what laws are passed or steps are taken by businesses, the final responsibility lies with parents. SafeKids USA, an advocacy group, offers a few tips for parents:

1)      Keep batteries and battery-powered devices away from young children

2)      Use strong tape to secure battery compartments that are easy to open

3)      If you suspect a child has swallowed a battery, immediately take your child to the emergency room and request and X-ray.

The Ohio product defect lawyers of Elk & Elk want all children to be safe and not harmed by any products. Parents, please be aware of the danger and take steps to keep your children safe.