Button cell battery warning ahead of Christmas

button battery

As the festive season approaches the Public Health Agency (PHA), is warning parents and caregivers about the dangers of children swallowing lithium button cell batteries which are used in many toys.

Swallowing button cell batteries can cause choking, burning or poisoning and can lead to life-changing injuries or death.

Christmas typically means that there will be more new toys in the home and therefore a rise in the number of the small batteries which are within many toys, musical Christmas cards, remote controls and lots of electronics. 

Hilary Johnston, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, said: 

“As new toys and electronics come into the family home, the potential for children to swallow button cell batteries increases and this can lead to choking, burning or poisoning.

“Young children are naturally inquisitive and sometimes explore the world by putting things in their mouths.

“If undetected, button cell batteries can do serious damage to the gastrointestinal system. Lithium batteries react with saliva, creating an electrical current which results in a build-up of caustic soda, which will burn through the oesophagus and major blood vessels.

“This can cause serious, life-changing injury, and if not caught in time, can be fatal.”

There are a few simple things that can be done to help protect young children from the dangers of button cell batteries:

  • battery compartments should be checked to make sure they can’t be opened or broken easily;
  • parents need to ensure that battery compartments are screwed shut when possible;
  • keep spare batteries in a safe place out of reach of children;
  • if you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, seek medical help immediately.

Hilary continued: “We want to highlight the danger of these batteries with parents, grandparents, childminders and carers. Treat them the same way you would any poisonous substance – keep out of reach and out of sight.

”It is also extremely important to follow the manufacturers’ guidelines and using your own judgement to select toys that are appropriate for the age and ability of the intended recipient.

“Some children, particularly those under three, are more vulnerable to choking, therefore it is important to buy age-appropriate toys. We should also think about the ability and needs of the child – there can be significant differences in the abilities of children within the same age group, as children develop as different paces – if you think there are risks associated with the toy, then it is best to avoid buying it.”

To find out more about toy safety visit www.rospa.com/home-safety/advice/product/toy-safety

See the damage a button cell battery can do by watching this video https://pha.site/buttonbattery