Every week, an average of five children present to an emergency department with an injury related to button batteries in Australia.
Button batteries are found in many common household products such as remote control devices that unlock car doors, TV remote controls, calculators, kitchen and bathroom scales and greeting cards.
“If a toddler or young child swallows a button battery, it can burn through their oesophagus in just a couple of hours causing serious injury or death,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“The ACCC is urging parents to keep products with button batteries out of sight and out of reach of small children.”
The ACCC has been working with the industry extensively since 2013, to introduce child-resistant packaging, improve warnings on packaging, and strengthen consumer education activities including The Battery Controlled campaign. The ACCC has also worked with electrical safety regulators to revise safety standards for compartments in some electronic products that use button batteries.
Following on from these activities, the ACCC will host an industry forum this August on button battery safety to discuss safety measures with industry representatives and designers, distributors and retailers of products that use these batteries.
To remind parents and carers of the dangers of button batteries and other preventable injuries, Kidsafe Queensland is hosting Summer’s Day on 28 February.
“Summer’s Day is named in memory of Summer Steer, a four-year-old girl who tragically lost her life after swallowing a button battery, and is held on the last day of summer every year,” Ms Rickard said.
The ACCC is proposing safety guidelines in line with international approaches, including:
- designing products in a way that prevents children gaining access to button or coin cell batteries contained within
- including first aid messages for consumers if they suspect a child has swallowed a button or coin cell battery
- providing improved warnings and safety messages on products and packaging.
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.
- 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.
Further information about the industry forum and how suppliers can participate will be available in the coming months via the Product Safety Australia website.
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