With the present-giving season upon us, it is important to recognize the danger that comes along with many presents: button batteries and magnets. A button battery or magnet can be found in nearly every small electronic game and toy – from talking dolls to calculators to light-up sneakers.
And they also pose a lethal threat to children who may mistake them for candy and accidentally ingest them.
Ingested batteries can quickly cause severe chemical burns to internal organs, causing serious and sometimes irreparable harm to the child. And magnets, if ingested, can cause blockages or twists in the intestines. One ingested magnet may not necessarily be a problem, but two needs immediate attention, as they are attracted to each other and can damage organs by twisting them.
The New Jersey Poison Control Center says that it has already referred 29 cases of ingested button batteries to emergency rooms this year, and has been consulted 40 times for instances of swallowed magnets.
Medical experts suggest that if parents suspect that their child swallowed a battery or magnet they should immediately call the Poison Control Center or Hatzolah. A swallowed battery or magnet may do serious harm before symptoms start showing, and it is therefore vital that emergency services be contacted immediately.
Additionally, once batteries are dead, don’t leave them around for children to play with. Even dead batteries often contain chemicals that are highly dangerous and should be safely discarded.
If a child swallows a battery or magnet, act immediately. Call the New Jersey Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 and Hatzolah at 732-370-3600.