Button Batteries

“It turns out this is one of the most damaging and dangerous things that my beautiful boy could have ever swallowed. It does not get much worse than this.” - Mother of an 8 month-old baby boy.

Button batteries, in particular big, powerful lithium coin cell batteries, can badly hurt or kill a small child if they swallow one and it gets stuck in their food pipe.

Know where button batteries are in your home, so you can keep your children safe. Our poster suggests where to look and what to look for.

[Download and share our poster Button batteries: Where are yours?]

Typically, small children:

  • take batteries from products like gaming headsets, car key fobs or slim audio visual remote controls
  • find spare batteries in a drawer or on the floor after a packet spills open
  • get hold of ‘flat’ batteries left on a worktop or table or stored for recycling.

Batteries in toys, gadgets and novelty items

Button batteries are used in an increasingly wide range of toys, novelty items, gadgets and other everyday objects you’ll find around the house.

While some battery compartments are secured, many batteries are easy for children to get to.

Button batteries are found in key fobs and other everyday objects you’ll find around the house. Please ensure spare batteries are kept in a safe place out of reach of children. Button batteries are used in an increasingly wide range of everyday objects you’ll find around the house including standard bathroom weighing scales.

Lots of these objects have buttons and surfaces that young children love to explore and play with. Many are brightly coloured or otherwise appealing to children. These include:

  • gaming headsets
  • slim remote controls
  • car key fobs
  • key finders
  • thermometers
  • kitchen or bathroom scales
  • musical cards
  • novelty items like singing Santas and flashing wands
  • fitness trackers
  • fidget spinners with LED lights
  • 3D glasses
  • flameless candles, nightlights and tea lights
  • light-up fidget spinners
  • light-up yo-yos
  • robot bug or fish toys
  • light-up head bands

The most common lithium coin cell batteries powering these products are 20mm in diameter (known as CR2016, CR2025 or CR2032); but 16mm, 23mm and 30mm diameter batteries also exist.

Children’s toys

In the UK, batteries in children’s toys are covered by toy safety regulations. They should either be enclosed by a screw and a secure compartment, or need two independent or simultaneous movements to open the battery compartment.

But toys bought online or from markets, discount stores or temporary shops may not follow toy safety regulations. For example, trading standards officers have issued warnings about light-up fidget spinners where the battery is easily accessible to children.

And remember that older children may still be able to open secure battery compartments.

Spare batteries

Spare button batteries are often stored in open containers or loose in a drawer. Please ensure they are kept in a safe place out of reach of children

Products may come with a spare lithium coin cell battery in a small plastic bag.

When you buy replacement batteries, some are individually sealed in the pack and can only be removed with scissors. But with others, especially cheaper packs you buy online or in discount stores, once you open it, all the batteries come out and some may fall on the floor.

Spares often end up being stored in open containers or loose in a drawer.

In this film, George Asan talks about his daughter Francesca, who died after swallowing a spare button battery.

‘Flat’ or ‘dead’ batteries

It’s not just fully charged lithium coin cell batteries that pose a risk.

Modern devices need a lot of power. When power levels drop, we think the battery is flat and discard it. But it can still have enough electrical charge left to cause serious internal injuries. Read ‘Are your used batteries really ‘flat’?’ to find out more.

More information

Download and share our top tips for keeping children safe, learn where you can find button batteries in your home, understand why ‘flat’ batteries are still dangerous and find out what to do in an emergency if you suspect your child has swallowed one.