Stories have been in the news recently about children who were injured while playing with reusable water balloons that use magnets to keep them closed. These reports are a reminder that children can be seriously injured or die if they swallow high-powered magnets.
These magnets, also called “rare-Earth” magnets, are much stronger than other types of magnets. If swallowed, they can attract each other within the body, causing serious damage to internal organs or death. They also can get stuck in the nose and cause serious injuries.
Children who swallow magnets may experience abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. These symptoms are common in kids, so you may not realize your child has swallowed magnets right away. If you think your child has ingested or inhaled magnets, seek emergency care immediately.
A recent study of patients at 25 children’s hospitals showed that more than half of children who swallowed high-powered magnets needed hospitalization. Nearly half of the children required surgery and other procedures.
While some magnets can be fun and educational, high-powered magnets should never be used in toys. Some products might have labels that indicate the toy is safe, but it actually violates U.S. rules and regulations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called for policies to keep children safe from dangerous high-powered magnets.
Follow these safety tips from the AAP to protect your child from magnet-related injuries:
- Get rid of any high-powered magnet products in your home.
- Keep small or loose magnets away from children.
- Supervise children when anyone is using magnets.
- Do not use large sets of magnets. It is too hard to know if some of them are missing.
- Talk to children and teens about the serious risk of using fake magnetic piercings in their mouths and noses. The magnets can be swallowed or inhaled accidentally.
- Check product recalls at https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls. Sign up to receive safety alerts from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Subscribe. The CPSC recently announced a safety standard regarding high-powered magnets.