What are button cell batteries and why are they dangerous for children?

Button cell batteries are small, round batteries commonly found in household items such as remote controls, toys, torches and watches. While they may seem harmless, they can pose a serious risk to children if swallowed or inserted, potentially leading to severe injuries or even death.

What happens if a child swallows a button cell battery?

When a child swallows a button cell battery, it can get lodged in their esophagus and cause a chemical reaction. The battery's electrical charge can generate caustic soda, which can burn through the esophagus and surrounding tissues. This can result in life-threatening injuries, including internal bleeding, perforation of organs, and even death.

How can parents and caregivers prevent button cell battery incidents?

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting children from button cell battery incidents. Here are some important steps parents and caregivers can take:

1. Keep button cell batteries out of reach:

Store button cell batteries in a secure location that is out of reach for children. Consider using childproof locks on battery compartments of devices that contain these batteries.

2. Inspect toys and devices:

Regularly check toys, remote controls, and other devices for loose or damaged battery compartments. Ensure that the compartments are secure and cannot be easily opened by a child.

3. Educate older children:

If you have older children in the household, teach them about the dangers of button cell batteries and the importance of keeping them away from younger siblings. Encourage them to report any loose batteries they come across.

4. Dispose of used batteries properly:

When replacing button cell batteries, make sure to dispose of the used batteries immediately and properly. Many stores (for example, Office Works) and recycling centers have designated drop-off points for used batteries.

What to do if a child swallows a button cell battery?

If you suspect that a child has swallowed a button cell battery, it is crucial to act quickly. Follow these steps:

1. Stay calm:

Stay calm and assess the situation. Do not induce vomiting or give the child anything to eat or drink.

2. Seek immediate medical attention:

Call emergency services or take the child to the nearest emergency room. Time is of the essence in these situations.

3. Do not delay treatment:

Do not wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical help. Even if the child appears fine, the battery may still be causing internal damage.

Conclusion

Button cell batteries may seem harmless, but they can pose a significant danger to children if swallowed. By taking preventative measures and being aware of the risks, parents and caregivers can help protect their children from these potentially life-threatening incidents. Remember, swift action is crucial if a child swallows a button cell battery. Seek immediate medical attention to ensure their safety and well-being.

If you suspect your child has swallowed or inserted a button cell battery, you should present your child to the emergency department immediately, even if they are not showing symptoms.

For additional assistance call the 24-hour Poisons Information Centre in Australia on 131126

 

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