A Safety Update on Button Batteries and Magnets

by Marianne Frederick

ChildSafetyBlog.org is pleased that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has set standards for children’s products and toys that bear magnets, so you may not see the tiny batteries and magnets formerly used in many children’s toys. But, adult desk and “stress relief” toys containing those same small magnets and batteries have produced another challenge: Young kids are still getting hold of button batteries and magnets and swallowing them, sometimes with disastrous results.

Parents and caregivers, when you think about giving a gift this holiday season, if the gift requires batteries, take a look at the size of the batteries and/or magnets and if they are tiny and can be swallowed by a child in the gift recipient’s family, nix the gift. Consider giving another type of desk decoration.

You will also find the disc-shaped magnets and tiny batteries in singing greeting cards and jewelry, so please keep your eyes peeled and keep products with small or loose magnets away from young children who might swallow them. In addition, don’t buy magnets sold in sets of 100 or more, as it could be hard to tell if a few magnets disappear. Have a talk with bigger kids about the dangers of magnets and using them as fake piercings in their mouths or noses… big kids can get hurt by magnets too. If a relative or holiday visitor in your home wears or removes a hearing aid that uses the tiny batteries, ask them not to leave the batteries anywhere a child can get to them.

Be aware of the symptoms of magnet/battery ingestion:

  • Abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. Since these symptoms are common in kids and not always caused by ingesting magnets/batteries or other objects, you may not suspect what has transpired immediately.
  • Treatment should not be delayed–the possibility of severe injuries to the digestive tract, stomach, intestines–and even death–are possible.
  • Contact your pediatrician or take your child to the nearest emergency room immediately if you suspect your child has swallowed or been injured by a magnet or button battery. If there are any signs of choking or respiratory difficulty, CALL 911.

If a child in your home is injured from swallowing a small magnet or button battery, after you have attended to your child’s needs, please report the injury to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, by visitinghttp://www.saferproducts.gov on the Internet, or by calling 1-800-638-2772.

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