Child Safety

Congress Passes Reese’s Law To Keep Children Safer From Battery Ingestion

The new child safety legislation is named after an 18-month-old who died after swallowing a button battery.

Reese Hamsmith was 18 months old when she died after swallowing a button battery. Congress just pass...
Reese's Purpose / Facebook

Congress just passed a bill that could potentially save children’s lives. Reese’s Law, which would strengthen the child safety standards for products that require button batteries, just needs President Biden’s signature to become law.

Reese’s Law is named after Reese Hamsmith, an 18-month-old who died two months after swallowing a button battery, which are small, round, and found in a swath of home devices like remote controls and even toys.

In October 2020, Trista Hamsmith, Reese’s mom, noticed that her daughter started wheezing and she didn’t have any appetite. After a misdiagnosis of croup and discovering a missing battery, Trista Hamsmith, Reese’s mom, took her daughter to the ER for an X-ray. “We just needed to make sure it wasn’t there,” Trista previously told Scary Mommy in a phone interview. “Unfortunately, it was.”

Despite having emergency surgery to remove the battery, the damage was already done. “There was a hole burned through her trachea and through her esophagus. When that tunnel formed, it was allowing air to go where it didn’t need to be. Food and drinks also went where they didn’t need to go,” Trista told Today Parents. Reese passed away in December 2020.

Trista wanted to make sure no parent goes through what she has and quickly got to work. She founded Reese’s Purpose and started advocating for stronger safety measures and warnings on products that require button batteries. During a congressional hearing last year, Trista told her daughter’s story, and the bipartisan bill Reese’s Law was quickly drafted.

“Reese’s Law will help prevent thousands of serious injuries by strengthening small battery safety standards,” Blumenthal and Blackburn, Chair and Ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, said in an official press statement. “Kids like Reese Hamsmith have tragically died or been severely injured after swallowing this small but deadly hazard found in common household items. We are relieved this common-sense legislation has passed Congress and is on its way to President Biden’s desk to become law so families can have greater peace of mind about the safety of products in their home.”

“I'm grateful to the House and Senate for their diligent work to pass Reese’s Law. This legislation will undoubtedly save lives,” said Trista. “I often talk about the plaque that was in Reese's hospital room which read, ‘He has a plan and I have a purpose.’ Reese's life was taken way too soon, but her legacy will live on through this law so that no other family will have to suffer like ours. We are thankful for the passage of this legislation to help protect all children and families from the hidden dangers of button batteries.”

Specifically, the legislation directs the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to create safety standards to prevent accidental battery ingestion, including creating performance standards for the compartments that house button cell or coin batteries, requiring battery packaging to be child-resistant, and requiring warning labels in product manuals, on product packaging, and directly on the product. President Biden best sign that bill, ASAP.