Congress passes bill to help protect children from button battery ingestion

Reese’s Law named after 18-month-old who died after swallowing button battery

There’s an update on a bill that’s being called a potential lifesaver for children.

Reese’s Law, which would ensure that all items using button batteries are made childproof, passed the Senate on Tuesday after the legislation cleared the House last week.

If H.R.5313 is signed into law by the president, it would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create safety standards for button batteries to make sure they’re safe for children in their original packaging and when they are in household devices, like remotes, key fobs and toys. In addition to requiring that the packaging of button or coin cell batteries be child-resistant, as well as mandating that components of products containing those items be secured to prevent access by young children, the legislation would also include warning label requirements.

It’s painful, extremely dangerous, and can be life-threatening for children who ingest tiny lithium batteries. One local family found that out when their baby girl got her hands on one. It popped out of a TV remote when then-10-month-old Ava Kate was playing with it. Her grandmother, Billie Jo Burr, said it sent the family on a journey of over 18 months, with their little girl undergoing approximately 40 operations. Burr said her granddaughter is now healthy.

Even though Ava Kate is doing well, Burr isn’t resting. She’s now on a mission to help protect other children and families and learned about Reese Hamsmith, who the legislation is named after. Reese was 18 months old when she swallowed a button battery and died.

Burr joined Reese’s mother, Trista Hamsmith, to try to help her pass Reese’s Law.

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Burr sent News4JAX a statement Tuesday evening, thanking Congress for passing the legislation.

“I am ecstatic! Beyond Grateful and hopeful that other families will not have to endure the suffering and pain ours did,” Burr said.

Hamsmith also issued the following statement Tuesday:

“Reese’s Law!!!! We passed Senate today! Within 10 days we will be signed by the president. Thank you to everyone who has positively supported this bill. We did it!

“21 months ago today the Lord brought together a group of women that all except for 2 of us he hand picked for this purpose. Each bought their own gift to the table. A gift chosen and selected by him. We have added many to our team along the way. Also, each chosen and picked. We got this done in such a fast time that I have heard many times this evening they can’t believe how fast.

“I am thankful that this legislation is passed and we are able to protect so many children in the future. I am thankful for everyone that has been a positive impact for families everywhere. I wish this had been done years ago before it had impacted us. Before we lost ReRe. Reese will live on through...through Reese’s Law!”

According to Safe Kids, more than 2,800 children are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries every year. That’s one child every three hours.