Button batteries are small round silver batteries that look like coins to small children. They are attractive to young children as they are bright, shiny and easy to swallow. If a battery is swallowed, it can lead to serious burns resulting in internal bleeding or death. Think safety first with these helpful tips.
Button batteries are found in common household items including:
- children’s toys
- remote controls
- bathroom scales
- musical greeting cards
- flameless novelty candles
- flashing novelties.
Make sure the battery compartments are secure.
Buy safe products
Only buy products that:
- require a screwdriver to open the battery compartment,
- are secured with a child-resistant locking mechanism, or
- require two independent and simultaneous movements to access.
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.
Make sure you dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous as they contain enough charge to generate an electrical current once ingested.
Tell family and friends about button battery safety and the importance of keeping them out of reach of small children at all times.
Seek medical attention
The following symptoms may occur after swallowing a button battery:
- gagging or choking
- chest pain
- coughing or noisy breathing
- unexplained vomiting or food refusal
- bleeding from the gut: black or red vomits or bowel motions
- nose bleeds: sometimes this can be blood vomited through the nose
- unexplained fever.
If you believe your child has swallowed a button battery, contact the Poisons Information Centre 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 two hours to cause severe burns once a button battery has been ingested and remains lodged in the body so you need to take action.
National Button Battery Strategy
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have launched a two year 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 two or more independent and simultaneous actions to open
- child resistant packets for sale of button batteries
- warnings about the hazard and advice about how to seek medical treatment.
The following clip from the ACCC provides advice and explains steps for parents and carers to keep children safe from button batteries in the home.
If you find products that use unsecured button batteries, you can report them to the ACCC.
Button battery consumer products that have been recalled can be found on the Product Safety Australia website.