Button Batteries – Where are yours?

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has recently published its independent investigation into the death of a three-year-old who swallowed a button battery.

Tragically, the report highlights that too few parents know about the dangers button batteries pose or how to manage the risks. The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) are supporting HSIB to raise awareness, working closely with government and industry.

Help CAPT to prevent more “devastating deaths” from button batteries

To coincide with the report, CAPT have launched a new downloadable poster Button Batteries: Where are yours? The CAPT are encouraging parents to know where lithium coin cell batteries are in their homes – in products as well as spare and ‘flat’ batteries – so they can keep them out of children’s reach and keep children safe.

Look around any family home and you’ll see a proliferation of products and gadgets powered by button batteries, particularly 3V lithium coin cell batteries like the CR2025, CR2032 and CR2330. For example, thermometers, fitness trackers, 3D glasses, gaming headsets, remote controls, bathroom scales, car keys, flameless candles, robot bug toys, light-up fidget spinners, musical greeting cards – the list is endless.

And while there are safety regulations for children’s toys, so lithium coin cell batteries are secured in battery compartments and can’t be accessed by small children, there are no equivalent safety regulations for other products in our homes.

Through their continuing partnership with the British and Irish Portable Battery Association (BIPBA), they have also recently launched a downloadable session plan to help staff raise awareness with parents in an engaging way.

On June 27, CAPT and BIPBA are supporting the launch of the OPSS national button battery safety campaign.

What’s the problem?

When a button battery, particularly a powerful 3V lithium coin cell battery, gets stuck in a small child’s food pipe, it can burn a hole inside the body and cause serious internal bleeding and death. That’s because the battery creates a chemical reaction that erodes soft tissue. If it burns through the main artery, a child can haemorrhage to death. The reaction can happen in as little as two hours. Symptoms are often not obvious until it’s too late.

Children between 1 and 4 are at greatest risk as they often put things they find in their mouths.

How can you help keep children safe?

  • Look round your home for lithium coin cell batteries – in products as well as spare and ‘flat’ batteries.
  • Keep all spare batteries in a sealed container in a high cupboard.
  • Keep products well out of children’s reach if the battery compartment isn’t secured.
  • Put ‘flat’ or ‘dead’ batteries out of children’s reach straight away and recycle them safely and as quickly as possible.
  • Avoid toys from markets, discount stores or temporary shops as they may not conform to safety regulations, and take care when buying online or from overseas.
  • Teach older children that button batteries are dangerous and not to play with them or give them to younger brothers and sisters.