Taking Charge: The Negative Side of Button Batteries

Button batteries are used to power items all around us. They are found in everything from mini remote controls and key fobs, to singing greeting cards and flameless candles.

While button batteries may not appear to be dangerous, they can cause deadly injuries if ingested. Each year there are about 3,500 people that are treated in emergency rooms due to swallowing a button sized battery. Over the last six years, 15 children have died due to swallowing a button battery.

How are button batteries dangerous?

Button batteries are small and easy for a child to accidentally swallow. Due to their small size, you may not notice a child has swallowed a battery until the symptoms begin. When a button battery is ingested, a reaction between the saliva and battery triggers an electrical current that produces hydroxide (an alkaline chemical). This causes the tissue around the battery to burn. Damage from the electrical current can occur in as little as two hours and may continue even after the battery is removed.

The damage that occurs in as little as 2 hours may last up to a lifetime. A few of the common injuries when a battery is placed in the ear or nasal cavity are scar tissue formation, nasal septal perforation, hearing loss, or facial nerve paralysis. Some of the common injuries when a button battery is swallowed are esphogeal perforation, vocal cord paralysis, mediastinitis, or death.

Why are these numbers so high?

Manufacturers create dangerous products by not properly securing the button batteries within their products and packaging. As a result, batteries can be easily removed by children and even infants. The improperly secured battery allows the battery to pop or fall out of the product or package and become a hazard to children. There are simple steps that a manufacturer can take to protect children against the danger of button batteries. Manufacturers should secure battery compartments with a screw or stronger latch. The product packaging should have warnings on the outside of the packaging that identifies the consequences of ingesting a button battery.

What can you do to help prevent risk?

The best way to prevent these tragic accidents is to make a safer product. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers have made the necessary changes to protect our children. Until the manufacturers create safer products, here are steps you can take:

  • Try to purchase products with battery compartments that are secured by screws or require a tool to open
  • Use duct tape to secure remote controls and other devices with these batteries
  • Do not change batteries in front of children
  • If battery compartments are loose or broken, keep product out of the reach of children
  • Do not allow children to play with batteries
  • Keep loose batteries out of reach and sight of children, preferably stored in a locked cabinet

If a child swallows a button battery

If a child ingests a button battery, time is crucial. Below are some helpful steps you can take to help minimize the potential damage.

  • Go to the hospital immediately. Do not let the child eat or drink anything until a medical professional has assessed them.
  • The symptoms can be difficult to recognize (they can include drooling, coughing, acting lethargic). Let the doctors know if you think your child may have ingested a button battery. This can help you save valuable time.
  • Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at: 202-625-3333 for additional treatment information.



At Powers Taylor, we are committed to our clients and getting them the justice they deserve. If someone you love has been injured due to ingesting a button battery contact the attorneys at Powers Taylor today. All calls are confidential.




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