Health safety body launch button battery awareness campaign

Officer for Health Promotion, Dr Max Davie, urges parents to make sure casing around batteries in toys and electrical devices are secure and says if in doubt, "don't take the risk".

Parents and families are being reminded of the potential harmful effects button batteries can have on children if swallowed.

These small round batteries, commonly found around the house in toys and household items such as remote controls and car fobs, can cause serious internal burns, leading to long term breathing problems and even death in children when swallowed.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), a safety body, has launched a safety campaign to raise awareness of the dangers in the lead-up to Christmas.

In response, Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

The size and shiny appearance of button batteries make them attractive to inquisitive hands and, sadly, the consequences of one of these being swallowed can be severely life-changing and sometimes fatal.

If swallowed, a child can suffer breathing difficulties and vomit blood, and once the battery has been removed, there are still silent dangers and long-term health problems that may need to be overcome.

I fully support this campaign and urge all parents to make sure casing around batteries in toys and electrical devices are secure before giving them to a child. And if in doubt, don’t take the risk – a child’s life could depend on it.

As part of the campaign, the HSIB have also provided some tips for protecting children:

  • Batteries are everywhere: Check household gadgets such as remote controls (TV, audio) and digital scales are safely out of reach of children and consider other items that might also have batteries (greeting cards, flameless candles, key fobs) which may not have the back secured with a screw.
  • Where a toy has batteries check that they are secured with a screw.
  • Think about where you store spare batteries and keep them in a high, lockable cupboard.
  • Teach children that button batteries are dangerous.
  • Remember that even used batteries can be dangerous, never leave them on the side, put them out of children’s reach straight away and recycle them safely.
  • Check for discarded or old remote controls or fobs around the house which may contain old batteries.
  • New toys often come with batteries included in the packaging - don’t lose them in the chaos of present unwrapping.