Like powerful magnets, lithium or ‘button’ batteries can be killers if ingested, and tragically, children have died as a result of injuries caused by swallowing these innocuous-looking discs.
As we all know, children will generally determine if something is a toy to be played with, regardless of the product’s intended use, and these small shiny batteries are very attractive to them.
If they inadvertently swallow a button battery, it can cause them to choke or lead to severe soft tissue burns in as little as two hours. Once burning begins, damage can continue even after the battery is removed. Repairing the damage can be painful and may require multiple surgeries.
It is critical you ensure all products containing button batteries around the home, or products that you are considering buying, have a battery compartment that is secured by screw or some other fastener that requires a tool to access the batteries.
You should also keep any replacement or spare button batteries out of reach of children.
Small children can’t always tell you what they have swallowed, so if there is any doubt contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 16 or contact your local emergency department for immediate medical attention.
For information on the national button batteries safety strategy, visit the Product Safety Australia website.