Keeping children safe from button batteries

  • 3-5
  • 5-7
  • Babies
  • Toddlers
  • Burns and scalds
  • Choking
  • Poisoning
  • Home safety
  • Out and about
  • Toy safety

Button batteries

Button batteries are the small, round batteries you find in toys and everyday appliances like calculators and remote controls. They can be extremely dangerous for children, and if swallowed, can kill within a matter of hours.

Why are button batteries dangerous?

Button batteries aren’t just a choking risk. If a button battery gets stuck in the throat or gullet this can trigger the electrical charge they carry and create caustic soda (the chemical used to unblock drains!). This can burn a hole through the throat and lead to serious internal bleeding and death.

Caustic soda is highlight corrosive

The scary thing is that your child may seem fine at first. They may not show any signs of choking or poisoning. In some cases, they may develop cold or flu-like symptoms.

Button batteries are also very dangerous if they get stuck in a child’s nose or ear.

Where can you find button batteries?

Button batteries are used in a wide range of toys, gadgets and other everyday objects you’ll find around the house. Lots of these objects have buttons and surfaces that young children love to explore and play with. These include:

  • small remote controls
  • car key fobs
  • calculators
  • thermometers
  • hearing aids
  • digital scales
  • musical cards
  • novelty toys
  • watches
  • flameless candles and nightlights.

Who is at risk?

 

It’s not just babies and toddlers, who put everything in their mouths, who are at risk from button batteries. Older children can be fascinated by them too.

In some cases, they may deliberately put a button battery in their mouth or on their tongue to experience the sensation of the electrical charge.

Children’s toys

Batteries in children’s toys are covered by safety regulations and should be enclosed by a screw and secure. Toys from markets or temporary shops may not follow safety regulations. Remember that older children may be able to open secure battery compartments.

How can I keep children safe?

  • Keep products with button batteries well out of reach if the battery compartment isn’t secure with a screw.
  • Keep spare batteries out of children’s reach and sight, ideally in a high-up, lockable cupboard.
  • Try to buy toys from reputable retailers.
  • Teach older children that button batteries are dangerous and not to play with them or give them to younger brothers and sisters.

If an accident happens

If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, act fast.

  • Take them straight to the A&E department at your local hospital or dial 999 for an ambulance.
  • Tell the doctor there that you think your child has swallowed a button battery.
  • Do not let your child eat or drink
  • Do not make them sick.
  • Do not wait to see if any symptoms develop.

CAPT resources

Help us tell parents about the dangers of button batteries by sharing this information, putting up a poster or handing out flyers.

We have three new products on the dangers of button batteries:

  1. A full-colour A2 poster (£2.00)
  2. A flyer on the dangers of button batteries (£6.75 for 50 flyers)
  3. A button batteries safety pack (£15.00) that contains the A2 poster and 100 copies of the dangers of button batteries flyer.

We are also offering an option to purchase flyers and posters in bulk featuring your organisation’s logo alongside that of the Child Accident Prevention Trust. Email amy.charters@capt.org.uk for more information.

Join our mailing list to keep up-to-date with child accident prevention.

More information

 

Donate to the Child Accident Prevention Trust

We are the UK’s leading charity working to reduce the number of children and young people killed, disabled or seriously injured in accidents.

Accidents are a leading cause of death and serious injury and many of these accidents can be prevented.

Thanks to your donations, we can alert families to the dangers and protect children from serious harm. If you’ve found this advice helpful, please make a donation.