The batteries that power many of your household devices and children's toys contain harmful substances, like acids, that can cause serious injury and even death if swallowed by a child. They can also pose a risk of fire or explosion.
The tips here can help you and your children avoid serious injury from batteries. Learn how to safely install, use, store and dispose of batteries.
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Many batteries, such as button batteries, are small enough to be swallowed by children. This can cause serious internal injuries and even death.
Batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries, can also overheat, leak, burst, and even explode and catch fire, causing serious injuries if they are not properly:
Report any battery-related injuries directly to the manufacturer. You can also Report an Incident Involving a Consumer Product to Health Canada.
If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, seek immediate emergency medical attention. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.
- A swallowed button battery can result in significant injury and death. It is important to act quickly if your child has swallowed a button battery.
- A button battery can lodge in a child’s throat where an electrical current is triggered by saliva causing a chemical reaction that can burn through the esophagus in as little as 2 hours.
- Several health organizations, including Ontario Poison Centre and Alberta Health Services advise giving your child honey on the way to the emergency department to reduce the risk of serious injury. Do not delay getting your child to the nearest hospital.
- Button batteries can be found in many household items that are accessible to children, such as:
- reading lights
- flameless candles
- laser pointers
- musical greeting cards
- small electronic devices (like remote controls)
- singing books
- light up/flashing jewellery
- hearing aids
- key chain accessories
- kitchen and bathroom scales
- Know the products in your home that contain button batteries.
- Check regularly that button battery compartments are secure.
- 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.
- Do not allow children to play with button batteries or remove them from household products.
- Never store button batteries near food and/or medicine.
- When replacing button batteries, make sure that used batteries are discarded quickly and properly. Even used or expired batteries can cause life-threatening injuries.
- Place pieces of non-conductive tape (packing, scotch or electrical tape) on either side of button batteries after removing them from products and before disposing of them.
Lithium-ion (also known as Li-ion) batteries
The use of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in consumer products is very common and they are generally considered safe to use. But as with any energy storage device they carry safety risks including overheating, fires and explosions. Lithium-ion batteries are more susceptible to being damaged than other types of batteries and can become hazardous in certain conditions. Take precautions when using, charging and storing these batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries are found in many electronic devices, such as:
- cell phones
- power tools
- vaping products (e-cigarettes)
Charging your lithium-ion battery
Lithium-ion batteries can overheat, catch fire or explode if they are not charged in a safe manner. Follow these precautions to help minimize risks associated with charging your lithium-ion battery:
- Allow batteries to come to room temperature before charging
- Never attempt to charge a battery in below freezing temperatures
- Do not exceed the recommended charging time
- Do not charge your device on soft surfaces, such as a couch or bed. Soft surfaces can trap heat around the battery
- Use your battery charger in a place you can keep an eye on it in case it overheats
- Use the charger that came with your device. If you need to buy or replace a charger, make sure the voltage and current are compatible with your device
- Make sure to use a charger that has one of the recognized Canadian certification marks, such as CSA, cUL or cETL. These marks indicate that the products are assessed to the required Canadian electrical safety standards. Chargers that do not meet the required electrical safety standards may cause electric shock and fire hazards for consumers. For more information on certification marks, visit your provincial or territorial Electrical Safety Authority.
- Do not use uncertified chargers.
Reduce your risk
- Do not allow children to install batteries
- When installing alkaline 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 use different types of batteries together
- Do not mix old batteries with new ones
- Do not mix rechargeable batteries with non-rechargeable ones
- Always read and follow instructions on battery packaging
- Do not use batteries that:
- are swollen
- are dented
- have torn plastic wrappers
- show other signs of damage or wear
- Buy your batteries from a trusted source
- Batteries are not toys. Do not let children 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
- Do not leave battery-operated devices, like cell phones and laptops, on your bed while you sleep, especially while charging
- Do not attempt to recharge batteries that are not rechargeable
- Do not attempt to repair a device containing a battery if it is not recommended by the manufacturer. Damage to a lithium-ion battery can result in hazards, such as overheating, fire or explosions
- Batteries can catch fire or even explode when in contact with metal. Do not store batteries where they can touch metal, like coins, or keys, such as in a pocket or handbag
- 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
- Carry batteries for your vaping product in a protective, non-metal case
- Remove batteries from devices that will not be used for an extended period of time, such as seasonal decorations
- Do not store batteries in a sub-freezing environment, such as your freezer
- 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
- Be sure batteries cannot be pulled out of the trash by a child. Spent batteries can still pose health risks and cause serious or fatal injuries
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