Did you know that some of your household items could harm or even kill your child? Children are fond of eating and playing with whatever they come across, therefore you ought to be careful about what you leave lying around the house or closely watch your child as they play. Household items like lithium batteries have become very popular because they are long lasting, work better than older batteries in the cold, and fit neatly into the slim battery compartment. However, lithium batteries can be extremely dangerous and life threatening to your child.
Incase these batteries are mistakenly swallowed by your child, they can easily get stuck in her esophagus, on the way down to the stomach. The child may bleed to death or get severely injured, in which case she would require tube feeding, she may also get paralyzed vocal cords and many other problems that require immediate surgery and long recovery times.
Therefore as a parent, you ought to be extra careful when you bring such items to your house.
One such case was Andrea Shoesmith who lost her beloved daughter, Summer Steer after she had swallowed a lithium battery. The mother of a four-year-old Queensland girl said she took her daughter to hospital three times on the day she lost her dear life.
The terrible nightmare started on the morning of June 13 when Shoesmith took her daughter to the doctor after noticing that Summer was producing black bowel movements. She also had a high temperature and complained of severe stomach pain, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported.
Ms Shoesmith revealed that the first visit, at 1:47 am, lasted 15 minutes. The doctor, Andrew Spall believed that Summer was only suffering from giardiasis, a gastrointestinal infection, according to Sunshine Coast Daily. Surprisingly, he had diagnosed her mother with the same illness weeks prior and guessed that the cases were linked.
Both times, however, the doctor did not obtain a clinical specimen. Andrea’s diagnosis was made during their second doctor’s visit, on June 17. Sunshine Coast Daily reports that there were only records of one appointment with Dr. Spall, though Shoesmith says differently.
On June 30th, Shoesmith took her daughter to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning. According to the ABC, Summer had suffered a nosebleed and had been vomiting blood. Shoesmith said the doctor claimed it was “common to be sick after swallowing blood from a nosebleed.” But while Summer and her mother were exiting the building, the 4-year-old threw up blood again, this time bright red in color.
She was immediately placed under observation for a number of hours before the doctor said she could go home. However, shortly after arriving home, Summer collapsed. Her mother rushed her back to Noosa Hospital for the third time that day and was promptly flown to a hospital in Brisbane.
Unfortunately, an X-ray was taken and it revealed the cause of Summer’s symptoms, but it was already too late. Summer went into cardiac arrest and died on spot. So what killed the poor girl? The findings of the X-ray were that Summer had initially swallowed a lithium battery which eventually led to her death.
The lithium battery was lodged in her esophagus, roughly the size of a coin. Susan Teerds, chief executive of Kidsafe Queensland, told ABC said that she hoped the publicity surrounding the inquest would raise public awareness about the dangers. She went further ahead to explain the dangers of lithium batteries and how to handle them.
“If you’ve got lithium button batteries, any of these small batteries in your home, it’s like having a loaded gun, seriously that’s how deadly they are. They’re in so many products, you know, every remote control is going towards thin and slim and that requires the flat button-type batteries.
If they’re in toys, they have to be in screwed-down battery compartments, but other products that are accessible to children, there’s no regulation that they have to be screwed down.”she said Ms. Teerds added that while Summer’s battery-related death may have been the first in Australia, she fears it will not be the last.
She concluded by saying, “I think it will exceed drowning in the number of children unfortunately dying. So we need people to take action. We need manufacturers to take action, we need them to screw down all their battery compartments. We need parents to take action, put the batteries out of sight and out of reach of children.”
Per a report from the Brisbane Times, Coroner John Hutton said that the hospital’s investigation was “inadequate,” he also advocated for safer ways to package lithium batteries and more secure battery compartments. It’s so sad that such a little girl lost her life.
If the parents had known beforehand the dangers of items like lithium batteries and preventive measures to take when you have such items in the house, perhaps she would still be alive. Rest In Peace Summer!