As more compact electronic devices appear in the home, young children face a greater risk of serious injury or death from the small button cell batteries that power these devices. If a young child or baby swallows a lithium battery, due to a chemical reaction with the saliva, within as little as an hour it will leak acid and cause such a severe trauma as to burn a hole in throat or stomach, causing further damage to other internal organs.

In the United States, according to the National Capitol Poison Centre, some 3500 incidents are reported every year whereby a person has swallowed a button cell battery and requires urgent treatment, and in Australia, according to the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit, it is estimated that 4 children a week are admitted to hospital because of complications arising out ingesting these small dangers.

Of the many electronic devices that contain these batteries, it is only a requirement for toys to have lockable battery compartments, so young children will often have access to other common household products where they could easily remove these batteries, such as remote controls, key fobs, musical books and greeting cards, flame less candles, and calculators.

Ensure your child does not have access to these devices if the battery compartment is not secure, make certain that spare batteries are locked away, and used batteries are disposed of correctly. If your child does swallow a button cell battery, seek medical advice immediately.

The City Council's Trading Standards Service continues to support the international awareness campaign. We will continue to help to make parents and carers of young children in Newcastle aware of the dangers posed by button cell batteries.

An officer from Newcastle City Council, following an invitation received from the EU, was in attendance on the 17 June 2014 at the ICPHSO 2014 International Symposium during International Product Safety Week. The officer was invited to present on the national poster safety campaign, which included the poster on the safety of button cell batteries and which was developed by the National Trading Standards Board. Go to our NTSB webpage. View a press release on the event from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.      

To see an article featuring the concerns of Dr Kate Parkins a Manchester paediatrician go to BBC News of the 14 October 2014 

To see an article featuring a related preventative safety development in the USA go to BBC News of the 3 November 2014  

To see an article featuring increased awareness of the safety issue go to BBC News of the 22 September 2016 

Copies of the localised poster for the Safety Campaign have been sent out to all organisations including nurseries and schools across the City. Anyone wishing to get a copy of the poster for their own premises should contact the Trading Standards Service on 0191 2116121.

Download the Safety Poster (pdf 494 kb) 

For further information contact the Trading Standards Service, Directorate of Operations and Regulatory Services, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH.
Phone: 0191 2116121

Page last updated: 
6 November 2018
Was this page useful?