There's a little-known risk to small children - coin-sized lithium button batteries can cause severe injuries when swallowed or inserted anywhere on the body. In Australia, it is estimated that four children present to an emergency department with an injury related to a button cell battery every week.
The most serious cases usually involve 10 cent-sized button cell batteries, however, all sizes are hazardous and should be kept away from small children at all times. Cell batteries can get stuck in a child’s throat and burn through the esophagus in as little as two hours. Repair can require feeding and breathing tubes and multiple surgeries. In some cases the injuries the child has sustained are fatal.
The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) urges parents to keep new and used button cell batteries out of sight, and out of reach of small children at all times. As soon as you have finished using a button battery, sticky tape should be put around both sides of the battery before you dispose of it immediately in an outside bin that is out of reach of children, or via a battery recycle facility.
If you suspect your child has swallowed or inserted a button cell battery, you should present your child to the emergency department immediately or call the 24-hour Poisons Information Centre in Australia on 131126.