Did You Know?

  • Coin sized lithium battery-related child injury is an emerging issue in New Zealand.  From 2010 till 2013, the National Poisons Centre has received 175 calls regarding children under 6 years swallowing or inserting batteries in their nose and ears.

  • Each year 20 children are taken to the Starship Emergency Department because of button battery-related injuries, or have been suspected of swallowing one.
  • Kids under 6 years old represent the greatest risk. 
  • When a coin-sized lithium button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the saliva triggers an electrical current that can severely burn the oesophagus in as little as two hours.

  • Symptoms may be similar to other childhood illnesses, such as coughing, drooling and discomfort.

  • When X-rayed, the battery can be mistaken for a coin.

  • Once burning begins, damage can continue even after the battery is removed.


Kids under 6 are at the greatest risk. Many coin-sized button batteries can appear “invisible” to parents because devices come with the batteries already installed. To keep your children safe:

  • SEARCH your home, and any place your child goes, for gadgets that may contain button batteries.

  • SECURE button battery-controlled devices out of sight and reach of children and keep loose batteries locked away.

  • SHARE this life-saving information with caregivers, friends, family and whanau.

Get Help Fast

Keeping these batteries locked away and secured in devices is key, but if a coin-sized button battery is swallowed, you should follow these steps:

  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency department immediately. Tell doctors and nurses that it might be a coin-sized button battery.

  • If possible, provide the medical team with the identification number found on the battery’s pack.

  • Do not let the child eat or drink until an X-ray can determine if a battery is present.

  • Do not induce vomiting.

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