Button batteries – product safety

Button batteries pose serious and potentially fatal risks if swallowed. Insertion into the ears or nose can also have serious consequences.

What you need to know

Safekids Aotearoa reports that every year 20 children are taken to Starship Hospital with serious button battery-related injuries.

Button batteries are the small, round batteries that power products like hearing aids, watches, toys, games, calculators, musical greeting cards and many remote controls.

If a button battery is swallowed or inserted it can get stuck and start causing significant irreversible damage in as little as 2 hours.

Button battery time-lapse video

Children under 6 are at the highest risk because of their tendency to put things in their mouths and noses – but there have also been cases where the elderly have mistaken small batteries for tablets.

What you need to do

  • Search your home for devices containing button batteries, replacement batteries and spent batteries.
  • Keep replacement button batteries and devices where children can’t access them. If you can’t keep the device out of reach, glue the battery compartment shut to reduce the risk.
  • Dispose of any spent batteries – don’t leave them lying around as they can still do damage.
  • Share this information with caregivers, friends, and whānau.

If you suspect someone has swallowed or inserted a button battery

  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency department immediately and tell staff a button battery has been swallowed or inserted.
  • If possible, give the medical team detail of the battery involved — for example the numbers on the battery’s pack.
  • Don't let the person eat or drink.
  • Don't induce vomiting.

If you have a safety problem or concern

If you have some concerns about the safety of a product or if you’re injured by a product, you should tell the retailer or supplier about it.

You also have the right to ask for a remedy such as a refund, replacement or repair under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). One of the guarantees in the CGA is that products must be of acceptable quality and this includes that the product is safe.

Faulty products – Consumer Protection(external link)

In addition, it’s good to report the details to us – product safety reports from the public help government agencies to identify systemic issues and help us to prioritise and respond to issues.

Report an unsafe product