Mother who lost daughter to button battery, toy safety experts discuss the dangers of toys during the holiday season

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(WTNH) – A grieving mother and toy safety experts were some of the witnesses at a Senate hearing in Washington on Tuesday morning. That hearing was chaired by Connecticut’s own Senator Richard Blumenthal.

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the holidays can also be very dangerous.

“All too often, they culminate in trips to emergency rooms because of dangers that result from toys and décor,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal chairs a Senate subcommittee on product safety, which held a hearing about holiday toy safety. In 2020 alone, there were 150,000 toy-related injuries and nine deaths in the United States. One of those deaths was 18-month-old Reese Hamsmith. Last year, she swallowed a small button battery.

“Once these batteries are removed from emergency surgery, they actually can continue to burn and hers did. A hole was burned through her esophagus and her trachea, creating a fistula,” said Trista Hamsmith, Founder of Reese’s Purpose.

Reese lasted for 40 days in the hospital before passing away. Her mother founded Reese’ Purpose to warn people about products that let batteries pop out.

“They’re not coming from our trash can. They’re not coming from our junk drawers. They are coming from products that are failing to securely close these batteries in,” Trista said.

Blumenthal and the ranking Republican on the committee are introducing Reese’s Law to impose standards and warnings on any products using button batteries. They also heard warnings about counterfeit toys.

“In October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Baltimore said they seized a shipment of counterfeit toys from China that contained toxic chemicals. Lab test conducted showed the coatings of toys exceeded the safe levels of lead, cadmium, and barium,” said Hannah Rhodes, Consumer Watchdog Associate.

Any toys involving magnets can be dangerous for children.

“Magnets, which obviously can be pulled apart and be swallowed, they are small, easily ingested,” Blumenthal said.

Every year, holiday decorations start fires. Those can be dangerous for the whole family.

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