Button batteries are the small flat coin-shaped batteries. They are just the size of sweets, and can be easily swallowed, and get lodged in the trachea or oesophagus. The are found in a number of house hold items including: remote controls, toys, digital scales and thermometers, watches, calculators, hearing aid and musical greeting cards, amongst other devices.
In the reported cases of ingestion of button batteries by those under six years of age, a huge 62% swallowed batteries they had taken from house hold devices. Furthermore, loose batteries were ingested in 30% of cases, highlighting the need to keep these items secured away. Probably the most worrying statistic of all, in 45% of these cases, the children affected were between 1 and 4 years old.
There are measures that can be taken, to keep your children away from the dangers of button batteries, these include:
- Loose button batteries should always be kept locked away in their original packaging. And it should go without saying, that children should never be allowed to play with batteries.
- Where possible, buy devices with a lockable button battery compartment. When this is not possible, secure the compartment with strong duct tape. If the battery compartment ever becomes broken, keep the toy or device locked away and out of reach.
- Used batteries still pose a risk, so dispose of them immediately using the correct procedures.
- If you suspect that your child has swallowed a battery, call Poison Control Immediately, and swiftly seek medical attention. DO NOT wait for symptoms to present.
There are a number of resources for those looking for more information on the dangers of button batteries, and how to keep them safe in your home. There is a lot of information online, including from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Poison Control.