If you have a look around your home you will likely find several items that contain button batteries. They are also known as coin batteries or button cell batteries and are used to power objects such as key fobs, remote controls, calculators, weighing scales, musical greetings cards, flameless candles and many other items. You will probably have spare batteries saved in a drawer somewhere for when they eventually run out. But, do you know about the potential dangers of button batteries – especially to young children?
RoSPA and the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) are aware of serious injuries – and even a number of deaths – caused by children accidentally swallowing these batteries. When mixed with saliva, the electrical current from the battery can cause life threatening damage to internal organs. You can watch a video from CAPT here Dangers of button batteries to children – YouTube which clearly shows the damage that they can cause.
Very young children are especially curious and are constantly picking up small items and trying to put them in their mouths. To keep your child safe:
Hunt around your home for button batteries. You’ll be surprised by how many you can find.Keep products well out of reach of your child if the battery compartment isn’t secured.Store spare and ‘flat’ batteries well out of reach too.Beware of bargains from online marketplaces or local discount stores. They may have button batteries your child can get to easily.
The regulations for the safety of toys state that any toys and games containing button batteries should have them in a secure compartment. However, cheap toys may not comply while many of the items listed above are not toys but are commonly used around the home so the legislation does not apply in the same way.
If your child does swallow a button battery it may not be obvious at first as they may become very quiet but if they show signs such as having unexplained breathing difficulties or pointing to their throat or stomach or being sick – especially if there is blood in the sickness – then they should go to A&E immediately. A fuller list of potential symptoms is on the RoSPA website at Button batteries – The dangers of button batteries and how to stay safe – Home Safety – RoSPA along with further information you can share with friends and family.
You can also order free printed resources for your playgroup or community centre, including leaflets and a colourful poster. Visit the CAPT website and use code BBFREE for free P&P.
Used button batteries should be disposed of safely and you will find recycling points in local supermarkets but do be careful about where you keep them in the home until you are ready to take them to be recycled. They still contain a charge that could be dangerous to children if swallowed. You may have heard of batteries catching fire at waste recycling centres recently but in the main these are the larger Lithium-ion batteries which are rechargeable and usually used in bigger items such as mobile phones, power banks and ebikes. These should always be disposed of following the manufacturer’s instructions.