Health Visitor Advice on Summer Safety: Button Batteries

Summer holidays are a time when children are very active and are often in and out of the garden, making it easy for them to get into mischief. 

By being aware of potential hazards, we can take steps to reduce the potential harm to children so that they can have a safe summer. Button batteries are one such hazard which have the potential to kill or significantly harm a child. 

So, button batteries - what are they? 

They are the round, small batteries you find in toys and lots of everyday objects. Despite their small size, they are extremely dangerous and, if swallowed, can kill within a coupld of hourse. They can be found in hearing aids, musical cards, toys, watches and small remote controls.

Why don't you have a look around your home and garden and see how many gadgets and toys contain button batteries?

Button batteries are dangerous because if they do not pass through the body, they can get caught in the throat or gullet and this leads to the battery reacting with bodily fluids, creating caustic soda. This is a strong chemical used to unblock drains and can quickly burn a hole in the throat and lead to serious internal bleeding and death. All button batteries are dangerous if they get caught in a child's ear or nose.

All children are at risk as it is not just babies and toddlers who put things in their mouths.

What you can do to keep your child safe

  • Keep products with batteries well out of reach if the battery compartment is not secured with a screw.
  • Keep all spare batteries out of children's reach and sight, ideally in a high-up, lockable cupboard.
  • Avoid toys from markets or temporary shops as they may not conform to safety regulations.
  • Teach older children that button batteries are dangerous and not play with them or give them to younger brothers and sisters.  
  • Remember that even used batteries can be dangerous, so recycle them safely.

It may not be obvious if your child has swallowed a button battery. If you suspect they may have done, take them straight to A&E or dial 999. Do not give them anything to eat or drink, do not make them sick, do not wait to see if any symptoms develop. Act promptly. 

Have a safe summer.