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Button batteries

Button batteries are small round silver batteries that look like coins to small children.

They pose a serious choking hazard because of their size, which makes them easy for kids to put in their mouths and accidentally swallow, or to push them into their ears or nose.

If a battery is swallowed or put up the nose, it can cause severe burns or death.

Read all the information below and share with others to help keep children safe.

Check items

Button batteries are found in common household items including:

  • children’s toys
  • flashing novelties (e.g flameless candles)
  • remote controls
  • thermometers
  • car keys
  • watches
  • calculators
  • scales
  • musical greeting cards
  • glucometers
  • hearing aids
  • reading lights
  • cameras.

Make sure the battery compartments are secure.

Buy safe products

Only buy products that either:

  • require a screwdriver to open the battery compartment
  • are secured with a child-resistant locking mechanism
  • require 2 independent and simultaneous movements to access the batteries.

Button battery products should be robust enough to be dropped without breaking.

Keep out of reach

Store spare button batteries in a cupboard out of children’s reach and dispose of used button batteries immediately.

Flat batteries can still be dangerous because they contain enough charge to generate an electrical current once ingested.

Seek immediate medical attention

If you suspect your child has swallowed or inserted a button battery, contact the Poisons Information Helpline immediately on 13 11 26.

If this is not possible go straight to the hospital emergency room. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not induce vomiting.

It takes as little as 2 hours to cause severe burns once a button battery has been ingested and remains lodged in the body so you need to take immediate action.

There may be no symptoms, but look out for:

  • coughing or noisy breathing
  • chest pain or grunting
  • drooling or vomiting
  • bleeding or discharge
  • unexplained food refusal or fever or vomiting
  • nose bleeds—sometimes this can be blood vomited through the nose
  • bleeding from the gut—black or red vomits or bowel motions.

Tell others

Tell family and friends about button battery safety, including prevention, recognising symptoms and taking action. Button batteries must be kept out of reach at all times.

Report products that use unsecured button batteries to us or the ACCC.

Share this page, the Queensland Health blog post and button batteries consumer flyer with others.

Find a list of recalled button battery products from Product Safety Australia.

National Button Battery Strategy

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have launched a national strategy to address and improve on the safety of button battery consumer products.

An industry code encourages suppliers to incorporate the following safety features:

  • completely sealed battery enclosures
  • battery enclosures that are secured with a screw, requiring the use of a tool to gain access to the batteries
  • battery compartment covers that require 2 or more independent and simultaneous actions to open
  • child resistant packets for sale of button batteries
  • warnings about the hazard and advice on how to seek medical treatment.

Industry code for consumer goods that contain button batteries.

This video from the ACCC provides advice and explains how parents and carers can keep children safe from button batteries in the home.