The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is continuing to work with industry to reduce the risk of serious injuries and deaths of children swallowing coin-sized lithium button batteries.
The effort comes as the ACCC joins consumer product regulators in Europe, Asia, North and South America and New Zealand in an international effort to alert the global community to the deadly dangers button batteries pose to young kids, as part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) International Awareness Week on Button Battery Safety, running 16 to 20 June.
“If a baby or young child swallows a button battery, it can lodge in the child’s throat and cause a chemical reaction, which can burn through the oesophagus in just a few hours,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Two thirds of suppliers, including all the major brands, are improving their button battery warnings, child resistant packaging or both. The ACCC encourages other suppliers to commit to these voluntary improvements.”
In Australia, an average of five children present to an emergency department each week with a button battery-related injury, which can require multiple surgeries and tubes for feeding and breathing.
“Consumers need to be aware of the serious injuries that button batteries can cause if children swallow them and remove these hidden hazards from your home,” Ms Rickard said.
Button batteries are found in many common household products such as remote control devices that unlock car doors, TV remote controls, calculators, hearing aids, bathroom scales, reading lights, flameless candles and talking and singing books and greeting cards.
The NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has produced a time lapse video using ham to illustrate the damage batteries do to a child’s throat and oesophagus http://www.productsafety.gov.au.
Safety steps for parents and carers
- Keep coin-sized button batteries and devices out of sight and out of reach.
- Examine devices and make sure the battery compartment is secure.
- Dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous. Put them in the bin if an alternative battery disposal is not available close to your area.
- If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, immediately go to a hospital emergency room. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not induce vomiting.
- Call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for additional treatment information.
- Tell others about the risk associated with button batteries and how to keep their children safe.
Twitter and Facebook users can also join the international campaign via the hash tag #worldbatterysafety.