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Button Battery Warning

Button cell battery danger warning ahead of Christmas

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has issued a pre-Christmas warning to parents and guardians about the dangers of lithium button cell batteries, which are used to power many children’s toys but are highly dangerous if accidentally swallowed.

The festive period can typically see a rise in the number of these small, button-shaped batteries introduced to the home as they are contained in many toys, musical Christmas cards, remote controls and a host of other electronic items.

Hilary Johnston, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, said:

“Young children are naturally inquisitive, and explore the world in part by putting things in their mouths.


“As new and interesting electronic items are introduced into the family home, the potential for children to swallow button cell batteries increases, and this can lead to choking, burning or poisoning.


“If undetected, button cell batteries can do serious damage to the gastrointestinal system. Lithium batteries react with saliva, setting up an electrical current which results in a build-up of caustic soda, which will burn through the oesophagus and major blood vessels.”

There are a few simple things that can be done to help protect young children from the dangers of button cell batteries:

  • battery compartments should be checked to make sure they can’t be opened or broken easily.

  • parents need to ensure that battery compartments are screwed shut when possible.

  • keep spare batteries in a safe place out of reach of children.

Hilary concluded:

“We want parents, grandparents, childminders and carers to be aware of the dangers associated with these batteries and understand that these seemingly harmless objects can cause serious injury to children. Treat them the same way you would any poisonous substance – out of reach and out of sight.”