Christmas warning to parents: Button batteries pose fatal risk

Button batteries pose a serious risk to young children.
Button batteries pose a serious risk to young children.

Parents are being warned when using button batteries in children’s toys and other household items over the Christmas period.

Button batteries, which are usually no bigger than a two-pence piece, are highly poisonous and if swallowed can be fatal.

Although small children may not choke on the battery if swallowed, the electrical charge from it creates caustic soda inside the body, which can burn internal organs and blood vessels leading to death. There are usually no early warning signs however in some cases the child may develop cold or flu-like symptoms.

Button batteries are used in a wide range of toys, gadgets and other everyday objects around the house including small remote controls, watches and car key fobs - all of which children can see as something to play with.

Coun Susan Dungworth, cabinet member responsible for public health at Northumberland County Council, said: “Button batteries are widely found in a number of day-to-day objects used in the home, some of which are easily accessible for small children.

“It is important to pay extra attention when children naturally want to explore or play with different objects including toys and other items found around the home. Extra vigilance should be used with objects that are powered by button batteries.”

Parents can reduce the risk of children coming into contact with button batteries by:

* Keeping products with button batteries well out of reach, particularly if the battery compartment isn’t secured with a screw.

* Keeping spare batteries out of children’s reach and sight, ideally in a lockable cupboard.

* Buying toys from reputable retailers.

* Teaching older children that button batteries are dangerous and not to play with them or give them to younger brothers and sisters.

If a parent suspects their child has swallowed a button battery, they should take them straight to an A&E department at the nearest hospital or by dialling 999 for an ambulance. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not try to induce vomiting.

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