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Household Safety: Button Batteries

Button batteries are small, coin-shaped batteries found in watches, toys, remote controls, calculators, and other small electronic devices. These shiny batteries can attract infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, who easily can put them in their mouths or ears or up their noses.

A swallowed button battery can get stuck in the throat (esophagus) and cause choking or interfere with swallowing solid foods. It also can travel through the digestive tract — or get stuck somewhere along the way — and cause serious and life-threatening injuries in just 23 hours.

If you have young children in your home, it's important to keep all batteries out of reach and to know what to do if a child swallows one. These guidelines can help.

Safe Battery Storage & Use

Store all unused batteries out of the sight and reach of children. Recycle or dispose of used batteries properly. Many communities have battery drop-off bins where you can take your used batteries.


Signs of a Swallowed Battery

A swallowed button battery that gets stuck in the esophagus can react with saliva (spit) and cause serious damage in as little as 2 hours.

If you find a toy or device with a battery missing or you suspect your child might have swallowed a battery, look for these symptoms:

What to Do

If your child has any signs associated with swallowing a battery, go to an emergency room immediately. Also go if you think your child swallowed a battery, but you're not sure or see no symptoms. It's best to err on the side of caution in these cases and have your child checked out.

Follow these guidelines:


If you have young kids in your home, childproof as much as you can. Get down on your hands and knees in every room of your house to see things as kids do. Be aware of your child's surroundings and what could be dangerous.

Of course, childproofing shouldn't take the place of parental supervision. Keeping an eye on kids is the best way to prevent accidents.

It's also a good idea to:

Even with these precautions in place, kids still can get hurt and accidents do happen. But being prepared will help you to act quickly and confidently in the event of an emergency.

Date reviewed: November 2016

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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