Top Dangers Button Batteries Pose for Kids — And How to Reduce the Risk

Button Batteries in a WatchTake a quick look around your home. How many items are powered by batteries? Of these, how many contain small, disc-shaped batteries? These “button batteries” lurk nearly everywhere — and they could be turning your home into a dangerous environment.

Many parents are just now becoming aware of the danger small batteries can pose for children. Toddlers, in particular, are at risk any time they play with toys that contain button cells. The urgency of the issue can be seen in the formation of a national Button Battery Task Force. Since then, manufacturers have stepped up their game by implementing higher standards for securing battery compartments. Despite all this, injuries tied to button batteries remain shockingly common.

Button batteries aren’t going away anytime soon, nor are they likely to be any safer for the time being. As such, parents either need to remove products powered by these batteries from their lives, or, more realistically, learn how to operate them safely. Below, we delve into these dangers while explaining what can be done to keep vulnerable children safe — and when help from a DC product liability attorney may be necessary.

What Are Button Batteries? Where Are They Found?

Today’s electronic devices are smaller and more stylish than ever. This sleek aesthetic is made possible, in part, by the diminutive button batteries that power many products. Also known as lithium coin batteries or button cells, these single-cell batteries are notoriously small. Most measure somewhere between 5 and 20 millimeters in diameter.

These days, button batteries can be found not only in the most popular devices, but also, in a surprising variety of toys. Typically, if a toy is small and doesn’t need to be plugged in, it contains a button battery. Increasingly, these are also found in household items such as remote controls and car keys.

Why Are Button Batteries Dangerous?

All batteries have the potential to be dangerous when children are involved, but the button version is unique: their size means that they can easily be ingested by curious children. Babies and toddlers learn by tasting items, and, the older they get, the more capable they are of removing and consuming small parts. Button batteries are particularly attractive to toddlers, who find their shiny appearance compelling.

The increased likelihood of ingestion is only the beginning, unfortunately. Once they’ve been swallowed, button batteries become highly corrosive. They are capable of burning holes through the esophagus or other parts of the digestive system. Often, the damage becomes life-threatening in just a few hours.

How to Keep Young Children Safe

Like it or not, the takeover of button batteries is likely to continue. While manufacturers should take extra action to make products safe, you, as a parent, will also need to step in. These suggestions should help:

  • Avoid purchasing products with button batteries. This first suggestion seems obvious, but it bears repeating: the fewer button battery-powered items located in your home, the fewer opportunities your kids will have to swallow button cells. Toys provide the easiest opportunity for minimizing risks, as many excellent products are still available without button battery power.
  • Check that the battery compartments are secure. You may be well aware of the dangers of button batteries, but the same cannot always be said of the loved ones who give your children gifts. If you’re reluctant to get rid of special items from friends or family members based on the presence of button batteries, take a closer look at the compartments in which these batteries are housed. These should contain a locking mechanism that makes it impossible for kids — and downright difficult for adults — to open.
  • Only purchase well-built toys. No matter how secure batteries seem within their child-proof compartments, they can still be accessed if your kid breaks the toys or other objects in which they’re kept.
  • Keep non-toy items powered by button batteries out of sight. First, look carefully through your home to determine whether any products powered by button batteries might be hiding. If they are within reach of young children, they should be moved to safer spaces.
  • Inform babysitters, daycare workers, grandparents, and others of the dangers of button batteries. After all, no matter how careful you are at home, your children can be vulnerable if they spend large amounts of time in poorly protected spaces. A brief conversation can make all the difference, so don’t hesitate to alert anyone who will be around your children. If possible, conduct a thorough examination similar to what you’ve already completed in your home. You may discover even more dangerous products in these spaces than you would in your own house.
  • Report problematic products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. By taking action, you can limit the potential for battery ingestion not only among your children, but also, for countless others all across the country.

These steps can feel time-consuming, but remember: with button cells, it takes very little to cause long-term suffering or even death. In addition to protecting your children, these efforts will provide powerful peace of mind, especially as your kids spend time outside of your home.

What to Do If Your Child Swallows a Battery

Time is of the essence when you suspect that your child has ingested a battery. Swift action is essential even when you aren’t sure that anything is wrong. First, call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline right away at (202) 625-3333. You can also call poison control at (800) 222-1222.

Recent research suggests that giving your child honey may also help as you await hospital treatment. Once you reach the emergency room, anesthesia will be applied so that doctors can extract the battery with help from an endoscope.

Negligence and Child Injuries: Working With a D.C. Product Liability Attorney

You make every effort to keep your children safe, but what about the manufacturers that produce their favorite toys? If you suspect that negligence has caused your child to suffer, it’s time to take action. Our DC product liability team at Regan Zambri Long PLLC can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to get started with a free case evaluation.