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First Aid for Children and Batteries

Look, mom, a candy! ’ Small children often don't understand that batteries are not a toy or candy. What measures can you take to childproof your home? And what should you do if your son or daughter nevertheless manages to make off with a battery?

Keep batteries out of reach of children

The most important tip we can give you is really simple: keep batteries out of sight and out of reach of your young ones.

Collect used batteries in a box in the garage or storage area, preferably at a height where children cannot reach it. Regularly drop the contents of the box in a Bebat collection box. Then you have nothing to worry about.

You probably also have quite a few toys or household appliances at home that run on batteries. Check that the battery compartment of these items is tightly closed - maybe add some extra tape to secure it - or keep them out of reach of prying hands.

batteries in toys
Help, the battery is leaking!

A battery can sometimes leak, resulting in white residue or liquid sticking to the outside of the battery. Why that happens and how you can prevent it is described in this blog post.

The culprit in a leaking battery is the conductive fluid. An alkaline battery contains a corrosive liquid. If your child comes in contact with that liquid, it can cause burns. Contact with white residue or crystals can in certain cases cause a slight skin irritation. So it is a good idea not to touch the crystals without gloves. Zinc-carbon batteries release a corrosive material if they leak. In lithium batteries, this is not the case, since they contain an organic conductive fluid. This can also cause a slight irritation, but the likelihood of this happening is slim: lithium batteries are much less prone to leaks.

What should you do if your child handles a leaking battery? Rinse the hands immediately under running water. If there are any burns, contact your family doctor. If the child has licked a leaking battery that has white crystals, contact the Poison Centre immediately. If the conductive fluid is still in liquid form at the time of contact, then you are advised to go to the hospital or your doctor immediately.

 

Collect empty batteries in a box, preferably at a height where children cannot reach it. Regularly drop the contents of the box in a Bebat collection box. Then you have nothing to worry about.

My child has swallowed a battery!

The use of button batteries is increasing, and so the chance that your child might swallow one is as well. This is also a major concern on the part of doctors, who are asked to deal with this more and more often. Battery producers try to limit the risk by including a warning on their packaging and providing information on their websites.

If your son or daughter puts a battery in his or her mouth, it is important to remain calm. Don't let your child eat or drink anything else and take him or her immediately to the nearest emergency room. The hospital staff will determine exactly where the battery is. If you still have the packaging for the battery or the device in which it was, take it along so the doctor knows what kind of battery it is. If you know the type of battery, remember to tell the doctor.

If the battery is in the esophagus, it can be removed at once by gastroscopy. If the battery has reached the stomach, then the doctor can assume that the button battery will continue through the digestive system in the normal way. If the child suddenly develops a stomach ache or gets nauseous in the days after swallowing the battery (or some other obvious symptom), it is a good idea to take him or her to be checked by the doctor.

More tips about handling button batteries are available here.

And please be sure to read our tips on safe handling of batteries.


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