Last updated in December 2023.

Do you have button batteries in your home? The answer is almost certainly yes. These tiny batteries are used in all kinds of electronic devices, from key fobs to your child’s favorite toys.

Unfortunately, they’re also the sort of small, shiny object that kids reach for. Small children are known for popping random items in their mouths (and noses, and ears). If they find a button battery lying around, it can lead to a serious injury.

Connecticut Children’s ear, nose and throat specialist Christopher Grindle, MD, shares important safety tips.

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 Every year, about 2,500 kids in the U.S. swallow a button battery, or place it in their ear or nose. When a battery gets stuck in the throat or stomach, it can be fatal. Within 15 minutes, a chemical reaction begins that can cause burns and tissue damage. Severe damage, including life-threatening injury, can happen within two hours.

Here’s how to keep your child safe.

Child-proof your home for button battery safety.

  • Make sure every battery in your home is stored out of your child’s sight and reach. To help you find all the batteries in your home, check Poison Control’s list of household devices that commonly use batteries. Don’t insert or change batteries in front of small children, either.
  • Check to make sure your child can’t get batteries out of devices. Try to choose products with battery compartments that only open with a screwdriver or special tool, or that have a child-safe closure. At minimum, use strong tape to keep the compartment sealed tight against small hands.
  • Be especially careful with products containing larger batteries, like 3 volt lithium ion batteries. Batteries the size of a penny or larger are especially risky: They’re small enough for a child to swallow, and large enough to get stuck in their throat. These batteries are found in all kinds of products. For example: flashlights, remotes, hearing aids, and key fobs.

> Related: When Cameron swallowed a button battery, a special team saved his life

A young boy after surgery

If your child may have swallowed a button battery, or placed it in their ear or nose, call 911 or go to an Emergency Department immediately.

Time is critical. Your child needs medical attention as fast as possible.

  • If you can, call Poison Control while you’re on the way to the hospital. Call the 24/7 battery ingestion hotline at 800.498.8666.
  • Is your child over 12 months old? Grab honey and a spoon. Give your child a teaspoon of honey every 10 minutes on your way to the hospital. It’ll coat their esophagus and the battery, and can protect against some injury. (Besides honey, do not allow your child to eat or drink anything until after doctors have checked them out.)
  • At the hospital, your child will probably get an X-ray. Some kids need emergency surgery to remove the battery. Connecticut Children’s has a special protocol in place for battery ingestion, saving precious minutes when a child arrives in the Emergency Department.

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