Skip to main content

The Dangers of a Swallowed Battery

What did you get for Christmas this year? Chances are your family received a lot of toys that take batteries.  Batteries are amazing, small capsules of power, but they can also be extremely dangerous.  Wake County Safe Kids and Energizer remind you to take extra precautions with batteries, because they can cause irreversable health problems or even death if swallowed.

The Risk

  • Common items like small remote controls, calculators, watches, car key fobs, flameless tea lights and bathroom scales often have powerful batteries inside, which look like a coin.
  • These batteries are extremely dangerous if swallowed.
  • Many devices that use coin lithium batteries have easy-to-open battery compartments.
  • These gadgets are often left within the reach of children. They may even be favorite play-things or used to entertain kids. • The batteries are often “invisible” to consumers because they come already inserted in devices.

The Potential Impact

  • If a coin-sized button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the saliva triggers an electrical current. This causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. It is important to know that:
  • Damage can continue even AFTER the battery is removed.
  • Repairing the damage is painful and can require feeding tubes, breathing tubes and multiple surgeries.
  • In some cases, children have died.
  • Spotting the problem is difficult. Children can usually breathe with the battery in their throat.

What You Can Do

  • Parents can take simple steps to protect their children.
  • Look in your home for any item that may contain coin-sized button batteries.
  • Place devices out of sight and out of reach of small children.
  • Keep loose or spare batteries locked away.
  • Share this life-saving information with caregivers, friends, family members and sitters.

If parents or caregivers suspect that a child has swallowed a coin-sized button battery, they should get help fast:

  • Go to the emergency room immediately. Tell doctors and nurses that it might be a battery.
  • If possible, provide the identification number found on the battery’s package.
  • Do not let the child eat or drink until a chest x-ray can determine if a battery is present.
  • Do not induce vomiting.