Hidden danger of button batteries

At this time of year, exchanging gifts and greeting cards are par for the course. But did you know musical cards and many toys can seriously harm your child?

Cards that play music when opened are powered by button batteries, which are incredibly dangerous to children if swallowed. These small, powerful batteries can be torn easily from paper cards and many parents don’t even realise a battery is missing.

Button batteries are also used in lots of toys (e.g. toys that light up, move, play music or make sounds) and household products, like car keys, remote controls and watches.

If a button battery is swallowed, it can burn through internal organs in just two hours, causing internal burns, severe bleeding or death.

To minimise the risk of button battery ingestion, you should:

  • Always check toys (especially ones that make noise or have lights) and ensure they have screw-on battery covers.
  • Avoid buying toys and items that require button batteries as a power source.
  • Keep household items you suspect may contain button batteries out of reach.

Keep all batteries (spare and used) locked away and out of reach.

  • Take used batteries to appropriate recycling points, don’t leave them lying around the house.

If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, call an ambulance (000 in Australia) or go to your nearest hospital emergency department immediately.

Button battery injuries can be catastrophic if not treated immediately. If you think a button battery has been swallowed, do not wait for symptoms to appear before calling an ambulance.

For more information on the dangers of button batteries, read our fact sheet on Button batteries.

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