LETHBRIDGE, AB – Recent incidents in Calgary and Edmonton have prompted a warning from Alberta Health Services here in south about what can happen if a child accidentally swallows a battery.

Several kids have reportedly swallowed small button batteries, like the ones used to power a watch, and some have ended up in hospital.

South Zone Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vivien Suttorp says all batteries can be hazardous.

“I’ve seen a child with a button battery up in the nose that caused corrosion and a very, very serious nasal infection. So batteries in general, new batteries or old batteries, are a risk to children.” – Dr. Vivien Suttorp, South Zone Medical Officer of Health

If swallowed, serious burning to the throat or upper digestive tract can occur within two hours even if the battery is expired.

After swallowing a button battery, a child might have one or more of these symptoms: trouble breathing; wheezing and/or drooling; coughing and gagging when eating; trouble swallowing; chest pain; belly pain; nausea and/or vomiting; loss of appetite; and fever.

If your child does swallow a battery, do not induce vomiting and take them to the ER right away.

AHS says preventing a child from ingesting batteries is the best way to avoid serious injury:

  • Keep batteries locked up, out of reach and out of sight of children.
  • Check battery compartments of household products are secure and not easily opened.
  • Use the screws provided and tape to seal battery compartments.
  • Buy household products with secure battery compartments that cannot be easily opened by children.
  • Supervise children when they use products containing button batteries.
  • Look for loose batteries on floors, tables, counters and dispose of them safely.
  • Store or dispose of batteries in a secure place so children cannot gain access to them.
  • Cover both sides of the battery with tape before storing or disposing.