FDA warns: Emergency alert pendants carry potential for choking, death risks

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A popular emergency alert pendant could pose a deathly choking hazard, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned consumers Tuesday.

There have been at least six reports of serious injury or death associated with the Philips Lifeline Personal Help Button necklaces, according to the FDA. The device is designed specifically not to break away when tugged; yet because of such durability, it poses a serious hazard should it become tangled around another object. The risk is heightened for seniors with mobility issues or who are at a greater risk for falls. Between 1998 and 2009, there have been four deaths and two serious injuries associated with the device, the FDA said in a statement.

Philips Lifeline has alerted its 750,000 customers to the potential risk, officials said. While the number of incidents is very low compared with the number of users of the device, the severity of the occurrences is of concern, the government officials noted. The agency recommends individuals consult with their physician to determine which style of emergency alert button is appropriate for their use.
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