Battery safety

The batteries that power many of your household items and children's toys contain harmful substances like acids and heavy metals. The tips here can help you and your children avoid serious injury from batteries. Learn how to safely install, use, store and get rid of batteries.

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Health risks

Many batteries are small enough to be swallowed by children. This can cause serious internal injuries and even death.  Batteries can also overheat, burst or leak--causing serious injuries--if they are not properly installed, used, stored or discarded.

Seek immediate emergency medical attention if you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery.  These small batteries can get stuck in your child's esophagus and burn through it and the wind pipe. Serious injuries can happen in a matter of hours.

Report any battery-related injuries directly to the manufacturer. You can also Report an Incident Involving a Consumer Product to Health Canada as well.

Button batteries

  • It is important to act quickly if your child has swallowed a battery. Button batteries can cause internal burns in as little as 2 hours.
  • Make sure that button batteries in household items stay securely in the products. Look for products with battery compartments that prevent easy access. For example, screw-closed compartments are harder to access than those that simply slide to open.
  • Always supervise children when they use products containing button batteries. Button batteries are often found in:
    • musical greeting cards
    • small electronic devices (like remote controls)
    • children's books
    • flashing jewellery
    • hearing aids
  • Do not allow children to play with button batteries or remove them from household products.
  • When replacing button batteries, make sure that discarded batteries do not get mixed in with any pills, medicine or food.  It is also important to be sure that they cannot be pulled out of the trash by a child.

Reduce your risk

Here are some guidelines to help keep everyone in the family safe.

Installation

  • When installing batteries, be sure to line up the "+" sign on the battery with the "+" sign on the product's battery compartment. Improper installation can cause a battery to leak or overheat and lead to serious injury.
  • Do not allow children to install batteries.
  • Make sure that button batteries in household items stay securely in the products. Look for products with battery compartments that prevent easy access. For example, screw-closed compartments are harder to access than those that simply slide to open.
  • Do not use different types of batteries together.
    • Do not mix old batteries with new ones.
    • Do not mix rechargeable batteries with non-rechargeable ones.

Use

  • Always read and follow instructions on battery packaging.
  • Batteries are not toys--do not let kids handle them.
  • Do not allow children to take battery-operated items to bed. Burns and other injuries can occur if the batteries leak or overheat during the night.
  • When recharging batteries, be sure to use the correct battery charger for the battery type. Do not try to recharge batteries that are not rechargeable.

Storage

  • Store batteries in their original packaging and in a cool, dark place away from household chemicals.
  • Store batteries away from medicine and food so that they are not swallowed by accident.
  • Store batteries out of children's reach and sight.
  • Do not store batteries where they can touch metal, like coins.
  • Remove batteries from items that will not be used for an extended period of time, such as seasonal decorations.

Disposal

  • Avoid throwing batteries out in household garbage. Many retailers and local governments have battery recycling programs that allow you to drop off old batteries. Contact your local government for a list of drop-off centres.
  • Never toss batteries into a fire. They might burst or explode.
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