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Button batteries

National Button Battery Safety campaign - Tiny batteries - Big danger
National campaign targeted at parents and child carers (such as grandparents) who may be unaware of the hidden risks with button batteries and the severe injuries and even death which can occur if a child swallows a battery.  Read information and watch the video.

In Australia two children have died in the past six years after swallowing a button battery, and hundreds of children suspected of swallowing button batteries have ended up in hospital emergency rooms.

At least 64 children have died globally.

What are button batteries?

Button batteries, also known as coin cell batteries, are flat, round, single cell batteries, used in personal and common household products such as:

  • children’s toys
  • singing books and musical greeting cards
  • remote entry car keys
  • cameras
  • hearing aids
  • lights
  • watches
  • remote controls
  • digital thermometers and
  • bathroom scales.

Parents and carers should be aware of the risks posed by button batteries. These can cause life-threatening injuries if swallowed by a child.

Why are button batteries unsafe?

“If a child swallows a button battery it can get stuck in their oesophagus or elsewhere in their system, causing death or serious illness,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Button batteries burn through soft tissue in as little as two hours and continue to pose a severe injury risk for children. It can be hard for doctors to identify the symptoms of battery button ingestion if the parent isn’t aware the child has swallowed one.”

If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 immediately. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not induce vomiting.

Symptoms after swallowing a button battery

  • gagging or choking
  • drooling
  • chest pain - which may present as grunting
  • coughing or noisy breathing
  • unexplained vomiting or refusing to eat
  • bleeding from the gut resulting in black or red vomits and bowel motions
  • nose bleeds - sometimes this can be blood vomited through the nose
  • unexplained fever

These symptoms are similar to many other conditions and may not appear for some time, so it may not be suspected that a child has swallowed a battery.

Mandatory standards

Four mandatory standards have been introduced to reduce the risk of death and injury associated with the use of button and coin batteries. The requirements of the mandatory standards are applicable to both button cell and coin cell batteries. For more on the mandatory standards

For more information on mandatory standards Button & coin batteries | Product Safety Australia.

Home safety

Make sure the battery compartments are secure, batteries area kept out of reach of children and disposed of immediately once used.

Updated: 22 Apr 2021