Button batteries are found in many common household appliances. They are slightly bigger than a 5 pence piece and shiny silver so they look like treasure to a small child. Usually they are completely harmless, you probably don’t even notice their role in your home, but when swallowed by a child they can pose a serious risk so Fred are supporting CAPT in their mission to raise awareness of button batteries this month.
The main risk when it comes to button batteries is swallowing. If a button battery becomes stuck in a small child’s food pipe, there is a danger that there will be a chemical reaction which can cause serious burns. Children between 1 to 4 years are most at risk because that is usually the age when children like to put things in their mouths. The 3V lithium coin cell batteries are particularly dangerous but caution should be taken with all button batteries.
The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) and the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) are now working on raising public awareness and improving product safety, but there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the risk in your home.
Where do you find button batteries?
Firstly, it is important to know where you can find these batteries in your home. Button batteries are used in a wide range of products, especially toys and novelty items.
Some of the most common sources are in remote controls, bathroom scales, car keys and home thermometers. There are many more products that use button batteries so it is worth checking all smaller electrical items.
The important thing to remember is that the risk can be significantly reduced by following some simple steps. The recommendations from CAPT include looking around your home for button batteries, both in products and in places where you may store spare or ‘flat’ batteries.
If the battery compartment on a product is not secured, for instance with screws, the products should be kept out of reach of children. Similarly, spare button batteries should be stored in sealed containers in a high cupboard.
Even if they do not work anymore, ‘flat’ or ‘dead’ batteries can still pose a risk to children so they should be treated in the same way as ‘fresh’ batteries. Make sure you put them out of children’s reach and dispose of them as quickly as possible, preferably by recycling.
Out of reach, out of mind
On top of these precautions, there are additional things you can do to keep your home as safe as possible for your child. In the case of button batteries, it is particularly important to ensure that drawers and cupboards are secured with locks, especially if they contain electrical items.
It takes a matter of seconds to fit an adhesive drawer catch for topor bottomdrawers with an automatic locking design so that children cannot have access to the contents. Cupboards can also be secured just as easily with adhesive, invisible magnet locks that ensure your home is safe, without compromising on design.
Alternatively, for cupboards with double doors, a dual action double door block secures both doors at the same time with minimal fuss. These simple solutions help to take the stress out of child-proofing your home, whilst ensuring that cupboards and drawers stay off limits and as safe as possible.
Fred safety has a home safety starter pack containing essential products you need to make sure your home is safe. This includes drawer catches and cupboard locks but also socket covers and corner protectors. All our products are designed to require 2 to 3 toddler proof actions and are made from carefully chosen, strong plastics that work reliably again and again.
In case of emergency
Despite these extra safety measures, accidents can still happen. If you think your child may have swallowed a button battery, you should take them to A&E immediately or call 999 for an ambulance. Medical advice states that you should not let them eat or drink anything and do not try to make them sick, wait until your child can be seen by a medical professional.
The future of button batteries
These new recommendations for button batteries are part of a joint effort to improve the safety of our homes by outlawing potentially harmful products. At this time, there are no manufacturing requirements for child-resistant packaging on devices using button batteries. However, the Office for Product Safety and Standards has commissioned the development of a fast-track safety standard to address this issue.
In the future, we hope that all products will be designed in a way that is responsible and safe for children. Until then, the danger can be significantly reduced by making sure that there are no batteries within reach of the children in your home and by ensuring that cupboards and drawers are completely secured.
For helpful advice on how to fit cupboard and drawer locks, and for other tips and advice on baby proofing your home, check out our short videos or follow us on social media: