AirTag batteries can break the product or seriously hurt your kids

The lithium button batteries that power Apple’s AirTag item trackers look like small coins. That is not necessarily such a bad thing, but for some children, the small, flat button battery could resemble candy. And as you might imagine, swallowing the component is not a healthy thing to do since it can cause permanent injury and death according to ZDNet.
To prevent kids from swallowing a button battery, manufacturers are applying a bitter tasting substance to the batteries called Bitrex. The idea is to give the batteries an unappealing taste so that the children don’t feel compelled to swallow them. The problem is that this bitter-tasting coating can cause issues when used in some devices such as the AirTag. So the choice you have is to buy the battery without the Bitrex coating and risk your childrens’ lives, or purchase the version of the battery coated with Bitrex and damage your item trackers.

AirTag batteries made to prevent kids from swallowing them can break the item tracker

The Bitrex-sprayed CR2032 lithium button battery, according to Apple, could create problems when used to power an AirTag. In fact, there are some AirTag units that are not working thanks to the use of the Bitrex spray. Sure, you could buy such batteries without the bitter coating, or try to scrape the coating off. But that would make the batteries potentially more dangerous to kids.

What makes these batteries so lethal? The National Health Service reports that when Bitrex-coated batteries are swallowed by kids, the body releases fluids like mucus and saliva which creates a dangerous substance like caustic soda which can burn through tissue. And don’t assume that just because a battery is dead, it can be swallowed without harm; that is just not true.

Symptoms of swallowing a button battery are not always immediately obvious. Children may suffer breathing problems or feel unwell. You also might see obvious signs such as finding your child coughing up or vomiting blood. A child could also insert a battery into an ear or nose causing the orifices to bleed. If you feel that your child might have ingested a button battery, take him or her to the Emergency Room (ER) immediately and do not give them anything to eat or drink since that could cause the battery to be vomited back up creating more damage.

Try to find out exactly what kind of battery your child swallowed but don’t allow that to delay your journey to the ER.

An alcohol swab can help clean the Bitrex-coating off of an AirTag battery.

Some AirTags, as we pointed out, have just stopped working when a Bitrex-coated battery was used to power the device. That’s due to the Bitrex-coating blocking the AirTag’s battery contact from touching the metal of the button battery. To fix this issue, uses should take a small alcohol wipe and try to rub off a small amount of the Bitrex-coating off of the battery, say no more than a-quarter of the coating. A small cleaning swab will also do the job or even a pencil eraser.

Just don’t use any material to clean the Bitrex-coating that you plan on putting in your mouth eventually. When a battery makes a proper connection with the battery connector of the AirTag, the device will emit a little tune to let you know that there is a proper connection. For other devices that face the similar issue, make sure that the battery contacts match up with the cleaned portion of the battery.

To guard your children against getting poisoned by button batteries, ZDNet suggests the following:
  • Buy quality battery brands only since these are more likely to be manufactured using higher standards with safety features.
  • Until needed, keep batteries in their original packaging and keep that packaging out of sight.
  • When removing part of the bitter coating, remove just a small portion and remove it only when needed.
  • Refit any screws or tabs or other safety features found on a device’s battery compartment.
  • Dispose of used button cells safely.

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