Remove hidden home hazards that can hurt kids

10 October 2013

During International Product Safety Week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is urging parents and carers to thoroughly check their homes for hidden product dangers that might lead to accidental deaths or serious injuries and illnesses.

“It’s the hazards you don’t see until it’s too late that can be very dangerous for young children so we are urging parents and carers to find the hidden dangers in their homes and remove them,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Hidden dangers include small, loose objects such as button batteries (coin-sized lithium batteries) used for various everyday electronics, blind and curtain cords and small, high-powered magnets.

“It’s natural for babies and young children to explore their surroundings and place items they find in their mouths. Unfortunately the results can be devastating and fatal,” Ms Rickard said.

“Button batteries power common household devices, such as remote controls and bathroom scales, and can be easily removed from these products. If swallowed, button batteries can get stuck in a child’s throat and burn through the oesophagus in as little as two hours.”

Tragically, a four-year-old Queensland girl died in July this year after swallowing a button battery that burned a hole in her stomach.

“Keep button batteries and devices out of sight and out of reach and if you suspect that your child has swallowed a button battery, go to the emergency room immediately”.

Ms Rickard also raised concern about the small high-powered magnets sold as desk toys, games and puzzles that were banned in 2012 but may still be in homes.

“If you have any of these products at home, dispose of them immediately. If a child swallows more than one small high powered magnet, the magnets can stick together across the walls of the child's intestine and can lead to severe internal injuries and even death,” Ms Rickard said.

Ms Rickard also urged parents and carers to check their blind and curtain cords are out of children’s reach. Cords can quickly wrap around a child’s throat and strangle them. 

Sixteen Australian children have died in this way between 1999 and 2013, one as recent as August this year where sadly a toddler in New South Wales died after being found in his cot with a blind cord around his neck.

“Tie loose or looped cords out of reach so that your child can’t reach them from the floor or by climbing on furniture,” Ms Rickard said.

“Follow the ACCC’s checklist to help remove hidden dangers around the home and keep children safe. I also encourage parents and carers to download the ACCC’s free Keeping Baby Safe app to your iPhone or iPad from the iTunes store. The app features safety information and buying tips for more than 30 different infant nursery products.”

Home safety checklist – find the hidden dangers

  • Keep small objects and any toys that have small parts out of reach of children under 3 years old. Usually, if it can fit into a cylinder pencil sharpener (approximate diameter 32mm) it’s a potential choking hazard.
  • Always check your child’s toys to ensure they are not broken or falling apart.
  • Find which devices use button batteries and keep these – as well as any spare batteries – out of sight and out of reach.
  • Examine the devices and make sure the battery compartment is secure.
  • Dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous.
  • Secure loose blind cords out of reach by using cleats or tensioning devices from a hardware or curtain and blind shop so they’re out of reach of children.
  • Keep small high-powered magnets out of reach from your child and if you suspect magnets have been swallowed seek medical treatment immediately.
  • Subscribe to the Recalls Australia website www.recalls.gov.au and/or download the Recalls Australia iPhone or Android app to find out if any items in your home have been recalled for safety.

Further safety information is available at www.productsafety.gov.au

To order ACCC’s free Keeping Baby Safe guide visit www.productsafety.gov.au/keepingbabysafe

Small high powered magnets

Coin-sized lithium battery

Blind cords secured with a cleat
Small high-powered magnets Coin-sized lithium battery Blind cords secured with a cleat

 

Release number: 
231/13
ACCC Infocentre: 

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Media enquiries: 
Ms Meg Macfarlan - 0408 995 408

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