Safekids New Zealand and Consumer Affairs (now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) are giving life-saving information to parents and caregivers about the potential dangers of swallowing coin lithium batteries. 

Coin lithium batteries, commonly found in singing greeting cards, talking books, key remotes, some TV remotes and other small electronic devices, can lodge in the throats of babies and young children. Once lodged, saliva triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the oesophagus in as little as two hours. 

Repairing that damage is painful and can require feeding tubes, breathing tubes and multiple surgeries. From March 2009 to February 2012, there have been 61 known battery ingestion-related cases at Starship Children’s Health. 17 of the cases required general anaesthetic to have battery removed and for further treatment.

A Little-Known Threat
The threat of button battery ingestion injuries is invisible. Many devices containing these batteries are not children’s toys and have compartments that are easy to open. “Too often, these devices are left within reach of young children. Talking books, singing greeting cards and car key remotes, for example, are often shared with children for their amusement. The batteries inside, if swallowed, can cause serious injury and even death,” said Ann Weaver, Director of Safekids New Zealand.

Safekids New Zealand and Consumer Affairs want to raise awareness about this issue by providing easy steps that parents and caregivers can take to prevent injuries
to children. 

Coin-lithium batteries can be found in everyday devices, such as:

  • Talking and singing children’s books and holiday greeting cards
  • Mini remote control devices
  • Calculators
  • Miniature torches and flameless/ electronic candles
  • Reading lights
  • Bathroom scales

What you can do 

  • Examine devices, making sure  the battery compartment is secure.
  • Keep coin-sized button batteries out of sight and reach.
  • If swallowing is suspected, go immediately to your local A&E, or call 0800POISON (0800 764 766).
  • Tell others about this threat and share the safety messages. 


Media Contact: 
Anthony Rola
09 631 0717