Families urged to be alert to the dangers of button batteries
The Tasmanian Department of Health is urging families to be alert to the dangers of button batteries this festive season, particularly parents and guardians who have young children.
As families and friends prepare to gather for events and celebrations for Christmas and the new year, including the giving of gifts, it is a timely reminder to be aware of the potential risks posed by button batteries.
Button batteries are used in a range of household and consumer products including some remote controls, watches, computers, cameras, calculators and home medical devices. Many children’s toys are powered by button batteries to produce light and sound effects, including toy cars and games, flameless candles, and musical greeting cards.
Button batteries can pose a severe injury risk, particularly in children up to five years of age where they can obtain access to the batteries. Young children are at the greatest risk due to their tendency to place small objects into their mouths, ears and noses. If swallowed, coin-sized button batteries can lodge in a child’s oesophagus and pose a significant threat to health.
Unlike other small objects, button batteries can become lodged in the digestive tract, where they can create small electric circuits, and cause severe burns. This can not only risk perforation and infection, but can in fact lead to long-term damage and problems in later life.
If you think your child has swallowed a button battery, you should call the Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 for advice, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A child who has swallowed a button battery without anyone being aware may develop a range of signs and symptoms, including abdominal or chest pain, breathing difficulties, drooling or problems swallowing, or vomiting blood or passing particularly dark stools.
If your child has any of these symptoms, you should go to the nearest hospital Emergency Department immediately. Our Emergency Departments are always open and ready to provide treatment for emergencies, including those related to button batteries, but we always prefer for this occurrence to be prevented in the first place.
If your child is having any difficulty breathing, you should phone Triple Zero (000) immediately.