Senate hearing warns of hidden holiday hazards for kids

Health

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Senators warn parents may want to check their kids’ Christmas lists twice before buying certain toys.

A hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday focused on hidden holiday hazards, including toys with small parts that children can accidentally swallow.

“These button cell batteries are a menace,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT.

Blumenthal said this battery in many toys, holiday decorations and other common household items sends thousands of kids to the emergency room every year.

“They come out easily, can be swallowed,” he said as he showed a button battery to his colleagues. “They are very small.”

For some, ingesting one of the batteries can turn deadly.

“She was blue, and she was lifeless,” Trista Hamsmith told the Senate committee. “I felt like the life had been taken out of me, too.”

Hamsmith’s daughter, Reese, died before her second birthday from complications of swallowing a button battery.

“Once these batteries are removed from emergency surgery, they actually can continue to burn, and hers did,” Hamsmith said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there were 3,500 button battery ingestions in 2020. But it estimates that’s only 11 percent of the true total since it’s not required to record or report these cases.

“Unfortunately, I’m not the first or the last parent to live this nightmare,” Hamsmith said.

Lawmakers want to change that. Blumenthal and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, introduced a bill in Reese’s honor to require warnings and proper fastenings for these batteries.

“You don’t expect that to be a hazard,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn also wants online retailers to combat the growing number of counterfeit toys made overseas by manufacturers that don’t always follow U.S. regulations.

“As more consumers are buying from third-party platforms, that they’re going to have the insight into where these products are coming from,” she said.

That’s why the senators are working to increase funding and cut red tape for the main government watchdog, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Make sure the holidays are really a time of joy not tragedy,” Blumenthal said.

The commission just released its annual Trouble in Toyland report that found emergency rooms treated nearly 200,000 toy-related injuries last year.

The full report can be found here.

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