WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), lead Senate sponsors of Reese’s Law, bipartisan legislation to strengthen safety standards for products with button batteries frequently found in everyday items, issued the following joint statement after the House of Representatives passed the legislation. The bill now awaits action in the Senate.
Named in honor of Reese Hamsmith, an 18-month-old child who died after ingesting a button cell battery from a remote control, the legislation would protect children from these small button cell and coin batteries found in common household items including cameras, calculators, battery-operated candles, flashing apparel, and even greeting cards. If swallowed, these batteries can pose a serious danger to young children and infants, and can cause serious injuries, severe internal burns, or even death.
“The approval of Reese’s Law in the House brings us one step closer toward strengthening small battery safety standards—and bolstering kids’ safety. No family should have to worry about seemingly harmless household items causing irreversible damage and injury to their kids,” said Blackburn and Blumenthal, Ranking member and Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security. “The tragic story of Reese Hamsmith we heard in our subcommittee last year was a call to action, and showed the serious danger these small but powerful batteries can pose to kids. Reese’s Law will give the CPSC the necessary tools to strengthen common sense safety standards by requiring child-resistant battery compartments and warning labels on everyday products. We’re proud to have introduced this legislation as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee and urge the Senate to swiftly approve this important measure.”
Blackburn and Blumenthal unveiled the legislation last year during a hearing with Reese Hamsmith’s mother, Trista Hamsmith, founder of Reese’s Purpose. Specifically, the legislation would direct the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to create safety standards to prevent accidental ingestion of button batteries by children, including:
- Creating performance standards requiring the compartments of consumer products containing button cell or coin batteries to be secured to prevent access by children six years of age or younger;
- Requiring button or coin cell packaging to be secured in a child-resistant manner;
- Requiring warning labels in product manuals, on the packaging, and directly on the product when practical, so it is visible;
- Requiring warning labels that clearly identify the hazard of ingestion; and
- Requiring warning labels that instruct consumers to keep new and used batteries out of the reach of children, and to seek immediate medical attention is a battery is ingested.
Reese’s Law was also introduced by U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) in the House, and has been endorsed by a number of advocacy and consumer protection groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Reports, Kids In Danger (KID), and the Consumer Federation of America, as well as manufacturers, including the Toy Association and Hallmark Cards, Inc.