Button Batteries - Know the Risks

Posted by Keri Hartwright on April 25, 2017
  • In my delivery or parent first aid courses and perusing the internet as I often do, participating in online chats with other mums on facebook and watching every last little toy, coin, finger go into the mouth of my nearly 4 year old I thought it important to raise awareness of the risk posed by button batteries.

    Christmas is rapidly approaching, the season where our houses will fill to the brim with new toys to entertain our little people over the coming year, and what parent doesn’t like to spoil their child. With the forthcoming shopping sprees about to being, I thought it was important to try and raise awareness about the dangers of button batteries.

    The safety risk they present has been highlighted by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (www.capt.org.uk). This is generally following unfortunate injuries and incidents to small children. It is well known that young children explore the world through their mouths. Everything goes in their mouth and they aren’t too discerning as to what this may be. Their little fingers move with lightening speed meaning toys can disappear into their mouths in an instant, and they are always exploring. It is these tendencies which are so important for their development, but on occasion can be troublesome.

  • The dangers

    Button batteries are present in a number of household items which often have buttons and other things on them which make them attractive to explore. Below are some of the items they may be found in:

    • small remote controls
    • car key fobs
    • calculators
    • thermometers
    • hearing aids
    • digital scales
    • musical cards
    • novelty toys
    • watches
    • flameless candles and nightlights (CAPT, 2016)

    If your children’s toys have been appropriately tested to meet certain safety standards the battery compartment should be screwed down making them harder to open, although it is important to point out that older children may be able to open these battery compartments.

  • Safety Advice

    In order to keep your children safe from this risk there are a few things you can do to protect them, for example you can keep the toys out of harm’s way. Store spare batteries in a locked cupboard, or one that is out of reach although be mindful of little climbers who are have learnt how to problem solve in order to reach things that they want. Try to buy your toys from a reputable supplier, making sure they meet British Safety Standards.

    These batteries often pass through the system without issue, but if they do get stuck somewhere such as the throat or in an ear or nose, the energy they release can cause the body to produce caustic soda which is extremely corrosive. If it does get stuck in their throat the battery could burn a hole or cause internal bleeding.

    It may not be immediately obvious that a battery is stuck until the damage has started to occur. If you think your child may have swallowed a button battery you should take them to the Emergency Department and advise the Drs of your concerns, don’t allow them to eat or drink anything and do not make them vomit.

    Awareness is spreading around this issue but it is important to get the word out there, because if one child can be saved or one injury prevented it is a job well done