Energizer’s new batteries warn parents if children swallow them

Two years ago, a report published in the journal Pediatrics raised the alarm about a rise in cases of kids swallowing button batteries in the U.S. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also warns about the dangers of young children swallowing small batteries, which can cause serious injuries and death.

“A button cell battery can burn through a child’s throat or esophagus in as little as two hours if swallowed,” the agency said, adding that “the consequences of a child swallowing a battery can be immediate, devastating and deadly.”

In response, Energizer is now releasing a new battery with several safety features, including one designed to help alert parents if a child swallows it. Energizer announced the new battery in a video with Trista Hamsmith, whose 18-month-old daughter died after swallowing a button battery from a remote control.

Its safety features include more secure packaging, a nontoxic bitter coating to discourage children from putting it in their mouths, and “color alert technology,” a blue dye that activates when the battery comes in contact with moisture, like saliva, so parents and caregivers can see by the blue in a child’s mouth if they might have swallowed a battery and could need medical attention.

Secure packaging and the bitter coating are not new. But the color alert technology is a “massive breakthrough here is the color alert technology, which helps give caretakers that indicator that something has happened,” according to Jeff Roth, the global category leader for batteries at Energizer.

“The most significant part about this is getting help early in the process,” he added. “That’s really what the color alert technology allows the family to do.” 

Button and coin batteries generate an electric current when they come into contact with bodily fluids, including saliva. That’s what makes them so dangerous when swallowed—the electric current can allow them to burn through body tissues, causing internal injuries. The longer a battery remains in a child’s digestive tract, the more damage it can cause, meaning time is critical once one is swallowed.

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