Metro Atlanta parents warn of dangers of lithium batteries ahead of the holidays

An Atlanta mother said her 1-year-old has been in the hospital for nearly a week after she swallowed lithium batteries.

Children are known to put items up their noses or in their mouths. Lithium, or “button” batteries, as their often called, can put anyone--not just toddlers-- at risk of injury or death.

“She was pointing at her throat, at her mouth, and I just had a gut feeling that something was wrong," Angelica Hill said of her daughter, Salima's traumatizing experience.

She said Salima is a fighter.

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An infection from a disorder threatened her life last year and this year, she’s recovering from emergency surgery to remove swallowed button batteries that caused damage to her esophagus.

The batteries came from her glucometer, which determines the amount of glucose in her blood.

"She or one of her little brothers could’ve dug it out of the trash as kids do," she said.

When Hill found her daughter, she knew she needed immediate attention. Not one, but two batteries we lodged in her esophagus and spewing acid near her aorta-- which doctors said can burn and prevent victims from swallowing liquids and food.

"It’s been extremely emotional and traumatic for our whole family," Hill said.

Dr. Maneesha Agarwal with the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said Salima’s case was a close one that could’ve been fatal.

"One of the things we’re most scared about when a child swallows a button battery, is when the acid eats through the esophagus and the aorta which is right next to it and in those cases children can rapidly bleed out in a matter of minutes," she explained.

Salima's case is so extreme, that her mother tells FOX5 she will be in the hospital for several weeks as doctors keep close watch of her for cardiac or respiratory issues.

Dr. Agarwal said there are batteries out there that aim at preventing these potentially fatal situations. Duracell, for example, just released a battery that’s coated with a bitter solution that could prompt kids to spit the small objects out.

Small children aren't the only ones susceptible to lithium battery injuries.

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"They said he’d be in the hospital for two weeks at least," Danny Powell said.

Powell’s 12-year-old son, Trey, ended up in the hospital with acidic damage from batteries he accidentally ingested while opening the back of a remote with his mouth.

"There isn’t much guidance to the general public about battery safety. Christmas is coming. I bet most toys have lithium batteries in them," Powell said.

"We lock our supplies and household cleaners with fancy kitchen locks and gadgets but we give our kids toys with batteries that can kill him," he said.

That’s why Hill has a desperate plea as parents shop for toys that could require button batteries for the holidays.

"Just look up a list of anything that could possibly have a button battery, lock them away, don’t throw them in the trash like I did, treat them like the toxic waste that they are," she said.

Thankfully, both Salima and Trey are resting and appear to be on the mend.

Experts suggest removing the batteries from the home immediately after use. Dr. Agarwal said parents should rush their child to the nearest hospital should they swallow a battery instead of calling 911, as the sooner the batteries are detected and removed, the better.

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