(NBC News) — It’s a hidden danger in our homes.
Each year, more than 2,000 young children accidentally swallow a button battery. And this could be deadly.
NBC’s Catie Beck interviewed Trista Hamsmith, who has been advocating for safer button batteries after hte death of her 17-month-old daughter Reese.
Like most toddlers, Reese was a ball of energy.
“She was a spitfire. She made her presence known from the second she could,” her mother said.
Tragically, in October 2020, Reese got a hold of a small button battery that was inside a remote control. Her mother noticed she had swallowed it when she noticed the battery was missing and Reese had begun wheezing.
The toddler underwent several procedures to repair the hole the battery had burned in her esophagus.
“It was a lot of battling sedation. It was a lot of waiting for inflammation to go down. It was a lot of praying.”
But her fight to survive ended in December.
“I never knew of the dangers of button batteries. The information is not out there,” Trista told Beck.
Button batteries are found in household items like thermometers, calculators, remote controls, watches, even kids’ toys and shoes.
In the first seven months of the pandemic, ER visits related to button batteries rose 93 percent among young children. Chemical burns from the batteries can happen in as little as two hours.
If a button battery is ingested, seek medical help immediately. experts recommend giving honey to children on the way to the ER. Two teaspoons every 10 minutes for children over 1 year old, according to poison control.
“Honey helps to reduce the rate of injury the battery causes once it’s lodged in a child’s esophagus. And not only helping neutralize the injury, but also creating a physical barrier between the tissue and the battery to slow that rate of injury even further,” said Dr. Kris Jatana. “So, it can be life saving in the sense that it slows the rate of injury until a child can have that battery removed from the esophagus.”
Trista’s nonprofit Reese’s Purpose, is now lobbying lawmakers for better safety standards, mandating screws for all products that use button batteries.
“I would still have Reese, I’d be picking her up from school right now. My family was robbed of those moments.”