A shared service delivering Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards across Bracknell Forest Council and West Berkshire Council

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8th March 2024 - Press Release - Button Battery Safety

Two children in the UK die each year from swallowing a button battery and many more are left with life-changing injuries. The risk of swallowing a button battery is most prevalent in children under the age of six.


Button batteries are small flat circular lithium cell batteries that are used to power a wide variety of items within the home, including watches, car key fobs, some remote controls, children’s electronic toys, LED lights, calculators, digital thermometers, scales, and musical greetings cards.  


Owing to their size and shape (usually being 1-2cm’s in diameter)  around the size of a 5p coin babies and young children can easily mistake them for a sweet and swallow them.


When swallowed, the battery can react with bodily fluids resulting in a chemical reaction and the release of caustic soda, a strong alkali chemical that can burn through body tissue. Even ‘dead’ batteries can release caustic soda so should be treated with as much caution as new batteries. 


What are the symptoms of swallowing a button battery?


  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Drooling
  • Pointing to their throat or stomach or complaining of pain


Some children do not display any or obvious symptoms.   


What to do if you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery


  • Take the child to your nearest A&E department as quickly as possible or call 999.
  • If you can, take the battery packaging or item the battery came from to A&E as this can help staff to identify the battery type.
  • Act fast and trust your instincts, if you suspect a button batter has been swallowed get help.
  • Do not give the child anything to eat or drink.
  • Do not try to make the child vomit.


Staying safe and being vigilant


  • Store button batteries securely and out of reach of children.
  • When opening button battery packaging, watch that none fall on the floor where they could be picked up by a child.
  • Know what toys and items within the home contain button batteries.
  • Buy items containing button batteries from reputable retailers to ensure they meet regulatory requirements.
  • If you spot the battery compartment of a toy is insecure, remove from play immediately and repair or discard safely. You can report faulty toys to Trading Standards.
  • Teach older children the dangers of button batteries and why they should not play with them or give them to young children or babies.
  • Safely discard ‘dead’ button batteries at your local recycling centre or in a battery collection bin. Do not put them in a general waste bin.


For more information contact tsadvice@westberks.gov.uk , tel 01635 519930

West Berkshire