During this "most wonderful time of the year," medical experts want you to be cognizant of what they're calling "one of the most dangerous items in your home."

In 2019 alone, the New Jersey Poison Control Center has referred nearly 30 children to hospital emergency departments for swallowing small disc batteries, the "bite-sized" discs that can be found in many common products ranging from children's toys and costume jewelry to remote controls and holiday decorations.

"We had a child that died a few years ago," said Bruck Ruck, managing director of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School-based center. "The parents did not know the child accidentally ate one of these batteries. It literally burned a hold through the esophagus and the child bled to death, unfortunately."

When a child swallows one of these batteries, Ruck said, he or she may not even feel pain, or choke.

"But these little disc batteries actually adhere to the esophagus and cause severe burning within the throat," he explained.

Pets can suffer the same consequences after swallowing a button battery, the center said.

Other items where these batteries may be found include singing books, calculators, watches, hearing aids, flashlights and key fobs.

Ruck advises parents to keep a close eye on toys' battery compartments — make sure they are closed tightly.

"If electronic toys stop working, look to make sure that the battery is still in there," Ruck added.

The center is also warning parents about the dangers of swallowing high-powered magnets. Ingesting them can cause devastating internal damage.

"Whether you see your child swallow any of these items or suspect he or she did, immediate medical attention is required," said Diane Calello, the center's executive and medical director. "Do not wait for symptoms to develop — irreversible damage may have occurred by the time signs appear."

The New Jersey Poison Control Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222 around the clock.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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