Home Children and Young People Button batteries – be aware of the dangers
graphic which has the words Check the button battery compartment is closed on toys and gadgets

Button batteries – be aware of the dangers

by Sandra Issar

We rely on button batteries to power everyday objects like car key fobs, remotes and children’s toys. But did you know that if they are swallowed they can badly injure, or even kill a child?

A new campaign raising awareness of the potential hazards has been launched by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) with advice which will help you to keep your child safe.

The dangers of button batteries

Button batteries react with saliva to create caustic soda – the chemical often used to unblock drains. If a child swallows a button battery and it gets stuck in their food pipe (oesophagus), it can burn a hole and cause internal bleeding, or even death.

Larger lithium ‘coin cell’ batteries (about the size of a five pence piece) are the most dangerous, but it is best to keep all button batteries out of a child’s reach. Smaller batteries can be inserted into places such as ears and noses, causing serious injuries if undetected

How to keep children safe are:

  1. Store spare batteries securely
  2. Know what products use button batteries. Ensure that toys and gadgets’ battery compartment are secure. Keep products with unsecured button batteries out of children’s reach.
  3. Educate older children about button batteries
  4. Discard dead batteries straight away

If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery

If you think your child has swallowed a battery, take them straight to the nearest A&E department or call 999 for an ambulance.

Take the battery packaging, toy or gadget – if you can – to help staff identify the battery.

Symptoms may not be obvious. Your child might be coughing, gagging or drooling, or pointing to their throat or tummy. Unclear or fluctuating symptoms mean it’s important to be vigilant. Don’t let your child eat or drink or make your child be sick.