button battery danger

Courtesy: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Everyday products in our home like singing baby books may contain button dangerous batteries. 

Button battery danger

The small disc-shaped batteries known as button batteries are deadly. Yet, they are found in all sorts of products including children’s toys.

You’ll also find the batteries in calculators, watches, musical greeting cards, remote controls, digital scales, keyless entry remotes, wireless game controls, digital thermometers, watches, and flashing jewelry and shoes.

Unfortunately, children are attracted to these small batteries and ingest them. When swallowed, the child’s saliva interacts with the battery creating an electrical current which leads to burns. According to Safe Kids, 84-percent of battery-related trips to the emergency room involve a button battery.

If not removed quickly, button batteries can kill kids. More than 17 kids have died.

He wasn’t gagging like something was in there. He wasn’t clawing at his throat. He never complained. Nothing

Button batteries dangerous for kidsWhat happens if your child swallows a button battery?


At just 15 months old, Carter Howard gave his parents the scare of a lifetime when he swallowed a button battery from his sister’s booklight.

“He wasn’t gagging like something was in there. He wasn’t clawing at his throat. He never complained. Nothing,” Doreen Howard says as she recalls the incident with her son Carter.

The family thought their son had the flu when he wouldn’t eat. Doctors examined the boy and found nothing abnormal.

When the boy still wasn’t improving after five days, his parents took him back to the doctor and insisted on an X-ray. That’s when they found the button battery lodged inside Carter’s esophagus.

“They had to delicately push the tissue away from the battery before they could remove it so they didn’t perforate it or make the wound worse than it already was,” Doreen Carter said.

Carter survived with no lasting health effects, but other children are not as lucky.

Experts say the lithium button batteries can cause chemical burns in as little as two hours.

I spoke with a Cincinnati mom whose 13-month-old son died after swallowing a button battery from some type of electronic product. Michelle Truett says doctors thought her son had the flu, an ear infection, and even asthma. It was too late when they realized he’d swallowed a button battery.

Where to recycle batteries

Button battery hazard: easy to take out of products

The Consumer Product Safety Commission showed me several products where the button batteries just fall out. Only children’s toys must have the battery secured, no matter what type it is.

It’s not just the small disc-like batteries that are a problem. There are bigger ones as well known as coin cell batteries.

The CPSC wants security features on all products and asked industry leaders for voluntary compliance.

While the changes are voluntary, mandatory changes could be around the corner. A bill in Congress would require better labeling and more secure batteries.

Change can’t come soon enough for parents who know how easily a product can become a hazard.

“It was promoting reading. It was a booklight. It was an awesome gift until it all turned tragic so easily,” Doreen said.

How to protect your family

The Howard family now secures the button battery with tape.  You can also throw away the product and replace it with a safer option for your family.

You should also keep all products with button batteries in them, out of reach of children. Recycle the batteries when you are done.