Is your service button battery safe?


​​​​​​​​Every week in Australia, 20 children are taken to hospital suspected of swallowing a button battery.

Swallowing a button battery, also known as a coin battery, can cause serious internal burns or death.

Inserting one of these batteries into an ear or nose can cause significant injury in as little as 2 hours.

Their shiny appearance and size—from 5 to 32mm in diameter—make button batteries attractive to small children.

They are commonly found in products designed for children and power more personal and household devices than you might think, including:

  • toys, learning equipment, resources and craft materials
  • medical devices, such as thermometers, hearing aids and glucometers
  • timers, digital scales, calculators, watches and fitness devices
  • cameras, clocks, car keys, torches and reading lights
  • remote controls, such as for whiteboards, TVs, fans, air conditioners, blinds, security gates and garage doors
  • novelty items, such as flashing books, jewellery, hair clips/bands, clothing, shoes and bags and musical greeting cards
  • decorations, such as fairy lights, Christmas ornaments and flameless candles.

Protect c​hildren from harm posed by button batteries

Under the National Law, approved providers must take all reasonable precautions to protect children from harm and from hazards likely to cause injury.

The following steps may assist your service enhance its policy and procedure for providing a child safe environment with respect to the risks posed by button batteries.

Reduce the number of produ​cts powered by button batteries

  • Avoid buying products powered by button batteries.
  • Replace products powered by button batteries with alternative items which are rechargeable or powered by cylinder batteries or the sun.
  • Restrict children and families from bringing items containing button batteries (except for required medical aids) onto your premises. Let families know about this restriction when they enrol and remind them regularly throughout their attendance. Proactively check for compliance.

​Identify which products have button batteries

  • Label products with button batteries 'Keep out of reach of children'.
  • Keep a register of products powered by button batteries.
  • Regularly check the service for any unregistered button batteries. Keep records of these safety checks.

Buy sa​fe products

  • If you must buy a product powered by button batteries, only buy products that:
    • require a screwdriver or tool to open the battery compartment
    • are secured with a child-resistant locking mechanism; or
    • require 2 independent and simultaneous movements to access the batteries.
  • Buy new button batteries in child-resistant packaging—that is, with packaging that needs to be opened with scissors.
  • Button battery products should be robust enough to be dropped without breaking.

Safely store spare​ button batteries

  • Keep spare batteries in a locked cupboard, drawer or filling cabinet that is out of reach of children.

Disp​​ose of flat or unused batteries correctly

  • Spent or flat batteries remain dangerous, so remove them safely from your centre.
  • Cover batteries in sticky tape, place in a tied plastic bag and take to a local recycling collection point such as your local council (council websites often list additional disposal places), Planet Ark, Aldi supermarkets or Battery World.

Teach children, families an​d colleagues about the dangers

Recognise the signs and symptoms of but​ton battery ingestion

  • Gagging or choking
  • Drooling
  • Chest pain (may present as grunting)
  • Coughing or noisy breathing
  • Unexplained vomiting or food refusal
  • Bleeding from gut—black/red vomit/bowel motions
  • Nose bleeds—sometimes this can be blood vomited through the nose
  • Unexplained fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • General discomfort
  • Spitting blood or blood-stained saliva
  • Bloody discharge from ear or nose

What to do if you suspect a chil​​​d has swallowed something poisonous

  • Phone the Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 for 24/7 fast, expert advice. Prompt action is critical. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.
  • If it is a life-threatening emergency, phone Triple-O.
  • Do not let the child eat or drink.
  • Do not induce vomiting.


Related information

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Last updated 01 December 2021