LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) — With the holiday season upon us, a Long Island doctor warns parents about the dangers of tiny batteries getting into the hands of young children. Many of them are found in toys.

Dr. Neha Patel started a wall of shame where she stores items she’s removed from children’s bodies over the years, among them lithium button batteries.

These objects are in everyday household items like remotes, calculators, watches, and children’s toys. They are stronger and can cause damage a lot faster than most batteries. Effects can happen within 15 minutes and can cause permanent damage within a couple of hours.

As Director of Quality for Otolaryngology at LIJ, Dr. Patel began an initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of children swallowing button batteries after noticing a sudden spike in cases. 

The rates have also increased nationally. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 70,000 children in the past decade went to the emergency room after swallowing the device. On average, there’s one battery-related trip to the emergency every 1.25 hours. When a child swallows a lithium battery, the effects can be explosive. It could have life-threatening consequences. 

To avoid a potentially deadly outcome, Dr. Patel said prevention is vital. For example, when changing batteries, do so away from children. Store them in a safe compartment. Also, make sure the items purchased are not easily accessible to kids. 

Parents should also watch for signs In the event child ingest a battery if left unsupervised. 

“They’re coughing more than usual. They’re drooling more than usual and refuse to take anything by mouth. There are signs that there might be something in there,” she said. 

If a battery is ingested within 12 hours, health experts recommend giving children over one year old two teaspoons of honey every 10 minutes until medical help arrives. 

The honey will coat the throat and reduce the risk of serious injury. In addition, Dr. Patel’s crusade has gone national.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed a bill called Reese’s Law – named after 17-month-old Reese Elizabeth Hamsmith, who died after swallowing a button battery in 2020. The law will require safer packaging and more visible warning labels to keep children safe.