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BLOG: Button batteries and children's safety

As childcare practitioners you will be aware of many of the dangers that ordinary household items can pose as well as how you can prevent accidents and injuries from happening whilst children are in your care. One thing that may not instantly spring to mind though is how button batteries can pose a danger.

If a young child swallows a button battery, they can be left with internal injuries that can be life changing and, in some instances, fatal. A powerful button battery can have devastating effects on a child’s body in just a couple of hours. This video shows how.

Many people simply don’t know the damage that button batteries can do and are shocked to discover how many everyday products are powered by them.

Would you know what they look like, or where to find them?

Button batteries – where are yours?

A child might easily find button batteries in things like small remote controls, nightlights and light-up toys, even old ones buried in the bottom of a toy box.

While good quality toys should have a secure battery compartment that can’t be opened by little ones, not all products meet the same safety standards, and some items may contain button batteries that are easily accessible.

Take a moment to check your setting to keep children safe; inquisitive, determined fingers get everywhere:

  • Look around your setting for lithium coin cell batteries – slightly bigger than a 5 pence piece – in products as well as spare and ‘flat’ batteries. They are big enough to get stuck and are strong enough to kill. Remember, smaller button batteries can still cause harm. Especially if they are new.
  • Keep toys and other items well out of children’s reach if the battery compartment isn’t secured.
  • Store spare button batteries in a sealed container in a high cupboard.
  • Remember that ‘flat’ or ‘dead’ batteries still hold enough power to badly hurt a child. So put them out of children’s reach straight away and recycle them safely and as quickly as possible.
  • When buying battery powered toys and other items for your setting, check that the battery compartment is secured.
  • Teach older children that button batteries are dangerous and not to play with them or give them to younger children.
  • If you think a child has swallowed a button battery, don’t delay, take them to A&E straight away or call 999 for an ambulance. Don’t let them eat or drink and don’t make them sick.

Free printed and downloadable resources to share

At the heart of family life, childminders and early years practitioners can play a big part in helping parents and carers understand the dangers. CAPT has developed a range of free resources to help you share button battery safety information quickly, create a talking point and keep children safe, including:

  • A colourful display poster featuring an illustrated house, asking the question “Button batteries – where are yours?” to start conversations in your setting.
  • A two-part session plan including a pictorial flashcard and workshop outline, to support you in planning sessions with families.
  • A leaflet explaining the risks, sharing safety tips, and giving emergency advice to parents and practitioners who think a child may have swallowed a button battery.
  • A factsheet translated into 17 community languages, describing the risks and where to look for button batteries.

The resources are free to download from CAPT’s online button battery safety hub and you can also order free printed copies for your setting from CAPT’s online shop.

Join us to hear from the experts

CAPT will be hosting a free lunchtime webinar on the dangers of button batteries at 12pm on Tuesday 26 April.

Join us and hear from a paediatric A&E consultant, child safety experts and a leading product safety expert as they discuss the dangers, where button batteries can be found and what to do if you suspect a child has swallowed one.

You’ll also hear from a mum whose son swallowed a button battery the day before his first birthday and how this impacted all their lives.

Book your free place here. Not able to make it? The webinar will be recorded and available to view on the CAPT website after the event. Don’t miss out on hearing from the experts.

Spread the word

You can sign up to receive the latest news and updates on child accident prevention and connect with CAPT on Facebook to share content with your network and hear about new resources as they become available.

Please visit our button battery safety hub to find out more and help us ensure as many families as possible know about the dangers, to prevent more tragedies.

Everything you need to know about button batteries.


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