Child Accident Prevention Trust (UK) Focus on: Button Batteries
Thursday 22nd September 2016
Brianna Florer died on Boxing Day 2015 after what her grandfather described as ‘a perfect Christmas’. Her tragic story was reported in the Metro which described how, while at her grandparents’ house, Brianna’s skin turned blue and she started to vomit blood.
“They operated on her for two and a half hours, but they couldn’t stop the bleeding. They believed the battery (acid) ate through to her carotid artery by way of her oesophagus… We had no idea when she swallowed it.”
- Grandfather of Brianna Florer, aged 2.
The quote from Brianna’s grandfather is a very accurate and chilling description of the severe trauma a button battery – something commonly found in the majority of homes – can cause to a child’s body
As more electronic items appear in the modern home, families with young children are being warned of the dangers of button batteries in a bid to reduce accidental choking and poisoning and even death.
Very few parents know that a button battery, if swallowed, can kill a child in a matter of hours, and it’s not through choking.
If swallowed, the electrical charge from the battery creates caustic soda inside the body. This can burn a hole through the throat and major blood vessels and children can bleed to death.
Button batteries are found in many products that can appeal to young children and everyday household objects such as car key fobs, musical greetings cards, children’s books and toys, and children's thermometers. Gadgets containing the batteries are becoming more prevalent.
The risk of children swallowing these batteries is increasing. Young children are naturally inquisitive, and explore the world in part by putting things in their mouths.
What precautions can you take to protect your child?
- Make sure that toys and other products using button cell batteries, such as small electronic devices, have lockable battery compartments secured with a screw. This should mean that they are safe for children to use as the batteries are locked away.
- Be extra vigilant with items including musical greeting cards, flameless candles and remote controls as they do not have lockable compartments.
- It is a good idea to ensure that spare batteries are locked away out of children's reach and sight, ideally in a high up lockable cupboard.
- Remember that used batteries can be dangerous, so recycle them safely
What should I do if my child swallows a button cell battery?
Unfortunately it may not be obvious that a battery is stuck in a child's throat.They may be breathing normally, or simply develop cold or flue-like symptoms
If you suspect your child has swallowed a button cell battery, act fast and seek medical advice immediately.
- Take them straight to the A&E department or dial 999 for an ambulance.
- Tell the doctor that you think your child has swallowed a button battery.
- Do not let your child eat or drink.
- Do not make them sick.
- Do not wait to see if any symptoms develop.
Remember that the saliva in their body will react with the battery and so time is very much of the essence in these cases.
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