Lithium batteries can be found in nearly everything in your home. Otherwise known as "button batteries," these guys are used to power remote controls, toys, musical greeting cards, calculators, watches, and tons of other electronics.
But because of their small size, they present an especially large danger to children -- and it has nothing to do with choking hazard. In fact, if a child swallows one of these tiny batteries, it may not prove fatal until hours later.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia explains that when swallowed, lithium batteries can get stuck in the esophagus, where saliva triggers an electric current that causes a chemical reaction, potentially burning through the esophagus in as little as two hours.
A video Dayton Children's Hospital posted to YouTube demonstrating what these batteries can do to tissue just two hours post-ingestion shows exactly how deadly ingesting one of these batteries can be.
Last year, 2-year-old Sophie Skill ingested a button battery and had to spend six days on life support as a result. And she's not alone.
"Our little boy accidentally swallowed a button battery that came from the remote control to our DVD player. ... The battery physically burned through the esophagus and into the trachea," said Karla Rauch, mother of 5-year-old Emmett Rauch, who had to undergo 65 grueling surgeries after his incident before he was able to eat and talk again.
In one procedure, they removed his entire esophagus and replaced it with his colon. In another operation, they took two inches from his rib cartilage to open up his vocal chords, which were paralyzed.
But neither of those stories ended as tragically as that of Brianna Florer, a 2-year-old girl who died from esophageal injuries sustained from swallowing a button battery.
Daily Mail reported that after only a few days of feeling ill and registering a low grade fever, Brianna started throwing up blood and turned blue. Her parents rushed her to a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she immediately went into surgery, but she later died.
An x-ray revealed she had swallowed a small button battery.
"They operated on her for 2 hours, but they couldn't stop the bleeding,' Brianna's grandfather Kent Vice said.
%shareLinks-quote="They believed the battery ate through to her carotid artery by way of her esophagus." type="quote" author="Kent Vice" authordesc="Brianna's grandfather" isquoteoftheday="false"% "
One minute she is perfect, and the next minute she is dead," Vice said. All because of a common household item, smaller than the size of a dime.
Safekids.org reports that each year in the United States, more than 2,800 kids are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries -- one child every three hours. The number of serious injuries or deaths as a result of button batteries has increased ninefold in the last decade.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia estimates that out of reported incidents, 80 children have suffered permanent damage, and 15 children have died in the past 6 years alone.
If you think your child had swallowed one of these batteries, the most important thing you can do is seek medical attention immediately.