Button batteries in Fiesta medals, trinkets can be dangerous to children, hospital warns

Hot dog demo shows what can happen to child’s esophagus

SAN ANTONIO – Medals, trinkets and toys that light up add to the flashy, Fiesta fun. But, it’s what you don’t see that can be dangerous to a small child.

Christus Children’s is warning parents of the potential, life-threatening dangers when a small child ingests a button battery.

“These batteries can be extremely dangerous,” said Sheila Morin, lead R.N. at Christus Children’s GI lab.

The lithium batteries can be found on the back of some Fiesta medals and in light-up gear.

Should a baby or small child accidentally swallow one, Morin said it can get stuck in the child’s narrow tube and do a lot of damage.

“What happens when the battery is lodged in the esophagus is the esophagus touches the battery in the middle and it is creating a current, and so it can create a burn,” Morin said.

That burn can become severe and even be life-threatening, she said.

A demonstration in which a button battery was put into a slit in a hot dog, simulating a child’s throat, showed dramatic results. In less than two hours, the inside of the hot dog was charred.

Coin battery ingestions have been a growing problem. An estimated 2,800 children are rushed to emergency rooms each year in the U.S. after swallowing a button battery, according to Safe Kids. Since 2016, at least 27 children have died.

Some manufacturers have taken action. Duracell, for example, has put a bitter-tasting coating on the batteries.

“If you even suspect a child swallowed a button battery, to the ER you should go,” Morin said.

On the way to the ER, Poison Control has suggested giving the child a spoonful of honey to coat the battery and minimize damage.

Beyond Fiesta, the coin batteries are in all kinds of products, from remote controls to toys to singing greeting cards. Safety advocates urge parents to check the battery compartment to be sure it requires a screwdriver or tool to open it.

Find more Fiesta coverage on KSAT.com here

About the Authors

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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