The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has voted to approve a new safety standard for button batteries, in an effort to reduce injuries and death when the batteries are swallowed.
The new rules, named after Reese’s Law, requires that button batteries be sold in child-resistant packaging.
The law also requires the use of a tool (such as a screwdriver or coin) to open the battery compartment, or at least two independent and simultaneous movements to open the compartment by hand.
Products with button batteries must also meet certain performance requirements, and the package must have warning labels.
The CPSC warns parents and caregivers to call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline (800-498-8666) or the Poison Help Line (800-222-1222) immediately for treatment information if you suspect that a child has swallowed or was exposed to a button battery.
Button batteries, also known as “button cell” or “coin batteries,” are small and round batteries that are found in a wide range of products — toys, thermometers, key fobs, TV remote controls, and many more.
Swallowing one of these batteries can be deadly. If a button battery touches bodily fluids, like saliva or mucous, it can generate an electrical current that produces small amounts of corrosive chemicals.
These chemicals can quickly burn through a child’s throat or esophagus in as little as 2 hours, according to the CPSC warning.
The CPSC said it is aware of 41 deaths and over 90,000 injuries that were treated in hospital ERs between 1997 and 2021, with more than 75% of those injuries and deaths involving children under 4 years old.