Gayle Finkelstein is Vermont Poison Prevention Educator with the Northern New England Poison Center in Community Health Improvement at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Gayle Finkelstein is Vermont Poison Prevention Educator with the Northern New England Poison Center.

March 19-25, 2017 is National Poison Prevention Week

Every year, more than 2,000 young children swallow button batteries. These are the small, disc-shaped batteries found in some hearing aids, flashlights, small electronics, toys and other household items.

They can cause serious injury when swallowed. Most commonly, a battery is swallowed and is found in the stomach. However, the larger batteries can get lodged in the esophagus (particularly in small children) and within 1-2 hours cause significant damage. Damage can include burns, ulcers, or even perforation of the esophagus.

Children act fast, and can get into these products more easily than you might think. If a child swallows a button battery, call your local poison center right away at 1-800-222-1222 for fast, expert advice. The Northern New England Poison Center is here 24/7. All calls are free and confidential. It is imperative that children with suspected button battery ingestions be taken immediately to a local emergency department for treatment. If a battery is stuck in the esophagus but removed within 1-2 hours, permanent damage or death may be prevented.

Help keep kids safe from button batteries! Store the batteries and products that use them in a secure container out of children’s reach. When buying battery-operated products, choose ones that require a screwdriver to access the battery. Get rid of old button batteries right away. Dispose of them properly according to your town’s recycling rules. Call your town office for more information.

If you have other questions about button batteries, call the Poison Center anytime at 1-800-222-1222 or visit

Learn more about Poison Prevention at the UVM Medical Center.

Read an interview with Jill Sullivan, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist on “The Dangers of Button Batteries.”

Subscribe to Our Blog