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A Hidden Hazard: Button Cell Batteries

Sep 27, 2017, 10:51 AM

The National Youth and Consumer Safety Council urges you to spread the word about a hidden hazard found in many everyday products in your homes—button cell batteries. Button cell batteries are small coin shaped batteries—less than 20mm in diameter—that pose significant injury risks to children. You may not even be aware of this potential hazard because many of the devices in your home come with the batteries already installed.

When swallowed, these batteries can cause severe burns. Ingestions can result in long-term complications requiring a feeding tube for nutrition, a tracheostomy tube to relieve airway obstructions and additional major surgeries. The number of ingestion-related injuries continues to increase as button cell battery use grows.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Journal estimates that there is an average of 3,289 battery‐related emergency room visits each year, based on injury data from 1990‐2009. The CPSC has tallied, from 1997‐2010, an estimated 40,400 children under 13 years old treated in hospital emergency departments for battery‐related injuries.

Button batteries are found in a vast array of products from children’s toys, remote controls, calculators, watches, flashlights, musical greeting cards and many other consumer products. Take the following precautions:

  • Check all of your products that use button cell batteries to be sure the battery compartments are secure.
  • Immediately dispose of old batteries when you change expired button cell batteries.
  • Keep unused new batteries locked away out of the reach of children.
  • Keep in mind that these batteries aren’t just in children’s products, they are found in a vast array of everyday products such as hearing aids, bathroom scales, thermometers, car/keychain remotes and everyday products in your home.
  • Check the floor and furniture for batteries that may have accidentally fallen out. Even your pets can fall victim to button battery poisoning.
  • The symptoms of button battery ingestion may be similar to other childhood illnesses. Go to the emergency room immediately if you suspect your child may have swallowed a button cell battery. Tell the doctors and nurses that it may be a button battery.

Help spread the word about button battery poisoning dangers. Let others know about the potential dangers. For more information about this hazard and for additional safety information, safety alerts and recalls go to TheSafetyCouncil.org. Pass it on and save a life!


Jamie Schaefer-Wilson is the executive director at The Safety Institute.