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Small cell batteries pose danger to children

August 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are reports of 3,400 children swallowing batteries in the past year.Lonnie and Michelle Truett's youngest son, Aidan, died after he swallowed a tiny battery.

"It just really changes you," Lonnie Truett says. "There's no greater loss than the loss of a child.

"There's no describing the everyday pain," his wife added.

Don Mays of Consumer Reports says tiny lithium button-cell batteries are found in all kinds of products, like children's toys, clocks, remotes, watches and even musical greeting cards.

In some products, like certain talking children's books, a child cannot get access to the battery.

"Musical books are regulated as toys," Mays says, "so you need a screwdriver to open the battery compartment."

But musical greeting cards are different. With many, a child can tear open the card and get to the battery.

With remotes, like for an iPod docking station, the battery is also easily accessible.

"These batteries are smaller and easier for a child to swallow," Mays says. "And the injuries can be severe. They can actually burn a hole through a child's esophagus."

To demonstrate the danger, Consumer Reports placed a button-cell battery between two slices of ham.

"After three days, the battery burned the top piece of ham, but it actually burned a hole in the bottom piece of ham," Mays says.

The Truetts don't know where their son found the battery he swallowed, but they've removed all button-cell batteries from their home.

"There's no sense in keeping them around because your child's life is not worth it," Michelle says.

Be aware, not all greeting cards pose a risk. Some come with a secure cover over the battery which is a far safer design.