Biden signs into law bill to help protect children from button battery ingestion

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

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed into law a bill that has been called a potential lifesaver for children.

The bill signing comes after Reese’s Law, which ensures that items using button batteries are made childproof, passed the Senate on Aug. 2. The legislation cleared the House on July 27.

H.R. 5313 requires 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 cell or coin 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 also includes 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 a healthy 7-year-old.

Even though Ava Kate is doing well, Burr hasn’t rested. She has been 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.

RELATED | Child UNsafe: The danger of button batteries

Burr sent News4JAX a statement earlier this month 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.

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.

About the Authors:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.