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Hidden dangers: button batteries

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Button cell batteries
Button batteries power everything, from remote controls to singing greeting cards. They've become increasingly popular but can be deadly if swallowed.

About 12,000 children younger than 6 years old have swallowed this kind of battery in recent years, according to the National Poison Data System. As a result, the number of serious injuries or deaths from these batteries has increased nine-fold in the last decade.

Once a child swallows one, the clock starts ticking for urgent medical attention. The esophagus can suffer severe burns within two hours.


  • Keep button battery controlled devices out of children’s sight and reach, such as remote controls, singing greeting cards or books, games, children’s toys, digital scales, watches, hearing aids, thermometers, calculators, key fobs, tealight candles, flashing holiday jewelry or decorations.
  • Keep loose batteries locked away, or place duct tape over devices to prevent small children from opening the battery compartment. The No. 1 device linked to battery ingestion cases? Remote controls.
  • Share this life-saving information with everyone who watches your child — caregivers, friends, family members and babysitters.
  • If you don’t witness your child swallowing a button battery, it could be hard for doctors to diagnose. The symptoms at first are similar to common viral illnesses.
  • Go to the hospital immediately if you suspect your child has ingested a battery. Don’t induce vomiting or ask your child eat or drink anything until seen by medical professionals.
  • Keep the National Battery Ingestion Hotline number handy: 800-498-8666.

Safe Kids Worldwide

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