Australian Government - Department of Health - Office of Hearing Services
Hearing Services Program

Safety Information on button batteries

Lithium button batteries are found in a large range of children’s toys and other household objects including in most hearing devices supplied under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (the program). In 2012, Energizer, Kidsafe, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched a joint safety campaign, The Battery Controlled, warning parents about the dangers of small coin-sized lithium button batteries. The campaign has identified that approximately 8% of injuries to children under the age of four were caused by button batteries used in hearing aids.

Risks and injuries

It is estimated that each week approximately four Australian children (under the age of five) present to an emergency department with an injury related to ingesting or inserting button batteries. When swallowed, button batteries can become lodged in the throat causing severe burns to the oesophagus and internal organs such as the lungs, heart, arteries and spine. This damage occurs within hours and can result in serious injury or death. Symptoms that may occur after swallowing a button battery include

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain and/or
  • Fever

If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, go straight to a hospital emergency department or call the Poisons Information Centre for additional information on 13 11 26. Do not let the child eat or drink until medical professionals can determine if a battery is present.

Preventative tips     

In order to prevent serious injury caused by ingesting or inserting hearing aid batteries the following steps should be taken

  • Children under the age of five should be fitted with hearing aids that have a tamper proof battery compartment.
  • Children who wear hearing aids should be monitored when using their devices.
  • Keep batteries out of sight and out of reach of small children.
  • Keep hearing aids out of sight and out of reach of small children when not being used.
  • Dispose of used button batteries immediately as they can still be dangerous. Your hearing service provider may be able to recycle used hearing aid batteries.
  • Inform others about the risks associated with button batteries.

More information

For more information please visit the ACCC’s Product Safety Australia and The Battery Controlled webpages.

Please report any incidents or injuries associated with button batteries to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

 

Safety information on button batteries (PDF 57 KB)

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