The adventure of becoming a parent can be daunting at times, and throughout this journey, we learn many things along the way. One of the biggest issues we face is how do we keep our child safe. Although we can never completely eradicate all the dangers our child may face, we can certainly minimise the risk of harm and also be prepared to know what to do in an emergency. One of the issues I would like to raise in this particular article is the dangers that are surrounded by batteries. We live in a day and age where we are surrounded by technology and many of the items in our house require batteries. Some of the things just to name a few are – toys, greeting cards, garage remotes and television remotes. Alongside these items presenting as a choking risk, one of the biggest concerns is the actual digestion of coin-sized batteries!
It has been indicated that four children a week in Australian present with battery ingestions and most commonly this is for children under the age of 5. The main concern with battery ingestion is that once it has become obstructed a chemical reaction between body fluids and the battery will occur, which results in burns in the soft tissues of the body. This reaction takes as little as 1-2 hours to occur. Another concerning factor and presenting danger is that batteries we consider to be “dead” can still have the same reaction and cause the same amount of harm. The worrying part of the ingestion of batteries is that after the ingestion of a battery this may not become known for a long period of time and the consequences of the chemical reaction are very rapid. The reason that this can go un-noticed is due to the scary fact that the signs and symptoms are often also related to the common cold. Some signs and symptoms are drooling, coughing, discomfort, coughing and pain.
The result of ingesting a battery can be extremely severe and the after effects can be long-term and chronic health implications that can arise even after removal. The chemical reaction can burn a hole right through the oesophagus right through to the trachea (windpipe), ultimately affecting your child’s ability to eat and drink for a period of time.
Although nothing replaces the importance of attending a First Aid Class, if you are concerned that your child has ingested a battery please follow these first aid steps;
*Seek urgent medical attention
*Seek advice from Poison Information Centre 13 11 26
* Do not induce vomiting
* Do not give drinks or food
In order to reduce the risk for a child to ingest a coin-sized battery, it is essential that we are aware of the dangers and put a measure in place to reduce this risk. This includes ensuring that items that have batteries are out of reach and that we recognise that old batteries produce the same risk, and therefore should be disposed of safely. Creating awareness about the presenting dangers in our household is essential to carers gaining the right knowledge and preventing these horrific encounters.
A big thanks to ‘The Battery Controlled Campaign” produced by Energiser, Kidsafe and ACCC for your resources and knowledge!
For more information about battery safety and disposal please visit:
If you would like to learn baby and child first aid go to www.parentmedic.co and contact your local Parentmedic Ambassador.
About the author of this article:
Nataly Tormey is the founder of The Parentmedic movement, a first-aid educator for over a decade and a registered nurse. The Parentmedic Movement is operating in Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom.
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