Everyday products in our home like a remote control or bathroom scale may contain a dangerous battery that’s killed 17 children and injured others. That’s why the Consumer Product Safety Commission is pushing for tougher standards, and a bill is pending in Congress. Companies are heeding the warnings and taking action.
At just 15 months old, Carter Howard gave his parents the scare of a lifetime when he swallowed a button battery from his sister’s booklight.
“He wasn’t gagging like something was in there. He wasn’t clawing at his throat. He never complained. Nothing,” Doreen Howard says as she recalls the incident with her son Carter.
I spoke with Doreen and her husband Kip for a NewsChannel 5 investigation.
The family thought their son had the flu when he wouldn’t eat. Doctors examined the boy and found nothing abnormal.
When the boy still wasn’t improving after five days, his parents took him back to the doctor and insisted on an X-ray. That’s when they found the button battery lodged inside Carter’s esophagus.
“They had to delicately push the tissue away from the battery before they could remove it so they didn’t perforate it or make the wound worse than it already was,” Doreen Carter said.
Carter survived with no lasting health effects, but other children are not as lucky.
Experts say the lithium button batteries can cause chemical burns in as little as two hours.
I spoke with a Cincinnati mom whose 13 month old son died after swallowing a button battery from some type of electronic product. Michelle Truett says doctors thought her son had the flu, an ear infection, and even asthma. It was too late when they realized he’d swallowed a button battery.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission showed us several products where the button batteries just fall out. Only children’s toys must have the battery secured, no matter what type it is.
Energizer teamed up with Safe Kids USA to launch an awareness campaign called, “The Battery Controlled.” Energizer will change its packaging starting in 2012, making it tougher for a kid to open it.
While the changes are voluntary, mandatory changes could be around the corner. A bill in Congress would require better labeling and more secure batteries.
Change can’t come soon enough for parents who know how easily a product can become a hazard.
“It was promoting reading. It was a booklight. It was an awesome gift, until it all turned tragic so easily,” Doreen said.
The Howard family now secures the button battery with tape. You can also throw away the product and replace it with a safer option for your family.