AHS warns of dangers of button batteries

Button Batteries. CC license, Wikimedia Commons.
Button Batteries. CC license, Wikimedia Commons.

With Christmas fast approaching, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reminding Albertans about the dangers of button batteries.

These small circular batteries are often found in toys and electronics, and they pose a risk to children if swallowed. This year more than 40 injuries in children related to button and similar small batteries were reported by emergency departments across the province.

AHS says swallowing one of these can cause chemical burns, severe injuries, and even death. The agency says the damage can be rapid and is likely to be worse if the battery gets stuck in the throat instead of moving into the stomach.

The provincial health agency says after swallowing a button battery your child might have symptoms such as wheezing, drooling, coughing, gagging when eating, trouble swallowing, chest pain, belly pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and fever. Injury can still occur without these symptoms.

To keep children safe this holiday season and beyond AHS recommends:

  • Where possible, choose products that do not use button batteries.
  • Keep all batteries locked up, out of reach and out of sight of children.
  • Supervise children when they use products containing button batteries.
  • Ensure children do not play with batteries or are able to remove them. Only buy and use products where the battery is secured, so your child cannot open it; for example, battery covers that are secured by screws.
  • Look for loose batteries on floors, tables, and counters.
  • Store or dispose of batteries safely.
  • Cover the ends of batteries with tape even if the batteries are dead. Dead batteries can still cause harm if swallowed.

If you think someone has swallowed a button battery, do not induce vomiting. Take the individual to the nearest emergency department immediately.

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