STATEMENT: Congress passes Reese’s Law

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WASHINGTON – The Senate has passed Reese’s Law, a week after the child safety bill passed the House of Representatives. It will now go to President Joe Biden for his signature.

The law will require the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt product safety standards for button cell, lithium coin and other small batteries that could injure or kill children who swallow them.

In 2019, the National Capital Poison Center reported that children 5 or younger ingested 1,843 button cell batteries that year, with 1,502 of those requiring medical care. This is a threat to older children, too. CPSC data show that for a six-month period in 2020, injuries related to batteries increased by 93 percent for children ages 5 to 9 compared with the year before.

Reese’s law would cover not only toys but also any products with small batteries such as key fobs, watches, remote controls and calculators. Products with these types of batteries will have to bear a warning label advising adults to keep the batteries out of reach from children. Manufacturers also will need to ensure that the products’ battery compartments are not easily accessible by children age 6 and younger. In addition, packages of individual batteries sold separately must adhere to federal child-resistant packaging standards.

The bill, introduced last September, was named after a 17-month-old girl, Reese Hamsmith, who died in 2020 after ingesting a button battery from a remote control. The battery burned a hole in her esophagus.

In response, Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said:

“If a child swallows a button cell or coin cell battery, it can cause serious tissue burns that can expand even after the battery is removed

“It’s gut-wrenching that it took a campaign from one devastated family to focus attention on this hidden danger that has existed for years and years. We are grateful for their efforts, as well as others whose work will help save children’s lives.

“We urge President Biden to sign Reese’s Law quickly, so the CPSC can take steps to protect children from tiny batteries and make sure another family doesn’t experience the tragedy the Hamsmith family did.”