CBS' "The Early Show" featured a segment this morning on a topic near and dear to the hearts of some NEMA members: ingestion of button cell batteries by children. NEMA represents the manufacturers of dry-cell batteries, including button cell batteries that are found in such products as pocket calculators, wrist watches, hearing aids, and toys. While statistics by the National Capital Poison Control Center (NCPCC) show that ingestion of such batteries is a rare occurrence, when it does emergency medical treatment is needed immediately. The NEMA Dry Cell Battery Section has long worked closely with the NCPCC to reduce the incidence rate of battery ingestion and to ensure that families have access to poison specialists whenever they need it, 24 hours a day.
For example, battery manufacturers place warnings on all packages containing batteries of ingestible size, and include the NCPCC's hotline number on the warnings. They make a sizable annual contribution to the NCPCC to support the 24-hour poison hotline. And battery manufacturers participate in the standards development process for battery-powered toys and electronics, working to make access to the batteries much more difficult. (The CBS program mentions one such battery manufacturer strategy: to use screw-in plates to prevent easy access to the batteries.)
NEMA's ultimate goal is to work to eliminate all such incidences, if possible. To that end, the NEMA Dry Cell Battery Section statement on what it is doing can be found here.