Coin-Sized Button Batteries Pose Serious Risks for Young Children

Safe Kids Huron Valley urges parents to secure button battery devices.

Ann Arbor, Mich. – Nearly 3,000 children were seen in U.S. emergency rooms in 2012 after swallowing coin-sized button batteries that resulted in serious injuries and in some cases death.  According to the National Capital Poison Center, this is a disturbing trend that is steadily growing, with an average of eight kids seen in emergency rooms every day.  

When a child swallows a coin lithium button battery, often the battery will get stuck in the child’s throat.   The child’s saliva will trigger an electrical current, which causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn their esophagus in as little as two hours.  And once burning begins, damage can continue even after the battery is removed. 

The number of coin-sized button battery swallowing cases resulting in serious injury or death, more than quadrupled from 2006 - 2010 compared to the five years prior.  Children age 4 and under are at the greatest risk.

“We’re seeing these button battery swallowing accidents to children in Washtenaw and Livingston counties also,” said Amber Kroeker, Safe Kids Huron Valley Coordinator and Injury Prevention Health Educator for Mott Children’s Hospital.  “Parents and caregivers often don’t realize that coin-sized button batteries are included in talking and singing children’s books and many other common items that are mistakenly left within reach of their children around the home.”


As demand grows for smaller, slimmer and sleeker electronic devices, the number of

lithium (or coin-sized) button batteries in homes grows as well.  These batteries power common products around the home.


Common Locations for Button Batteries

·       Mini remote control devices that control DVD players and MP3 speakers

·       Flameless candles

·       Remote Keyless Entry Devices (Key fobs)

·       Calculators

·       Bathroom scales

·       Reading lights

·       Children’s talking and singing books; singing greeting cards.

·       Watches

What You Can Do


·       Secure button battery-powered devices out of sight and reach of children. Keep loose batteries locked away. To secure the battery in a television remote control, a simple fix is to put a large piece of duct tape over the controller to prevent small children from accessing the battery.


·       If you even suspect that your child has swallowed a battery, take your child to an emergency room immediately. (It may not be obvious at first that something is wrong.  Kids can still breathe with the coin lithium battery in their throat.)  Put the National Battery Ingestion Hotline (202-625-3333) into your phone.


·       Share this life-saving information with caregivers, friends, family members and sitters.


In 2011, Energizer and Safe Kids joined together to create The Battery Controlled, a partnership to share life-saving information with parents and caregivers about the potential risks of swallowing coin lithium batteries.


In addition to its awareness efforts, in 2012 Energizer introduced coin cell battery packaging that meets strict guidelines for child-resistant packaging set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Energizer has conducted research to understand the root cause of the chemical reaction that occurs when a coin lithium button battery is swallowed and has collaborated with health and safety professionals and others in the industry to share its findings in search of a solution.


About Safe Kids Huron Valley


Safe Kids Huron Valley, which includes Livingston and Washtenaw counties, works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children through age 14. Throughout the world, almost 1 million children die of injuries each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable.  Safe Kids Huron Valley is a member of Safe Kids Michigan and Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury.  Safe Kids Huron Valley is proudly led by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. 

Visit Safe Kids Huron Valley on Facebook.      

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