In the lead up to the busiest festive time of the year, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is urging consumers to be mindful of what is lurking inside their decorations.
Flashing lights and decorations are often powered by button batteries. Button batteries are small cylindrical batteries, usually lithium powered. They are attractive to young children as they are bright, shiny and easy to swallow.
The battery compartments within common household products, decorations and toys are often unsecure, and easy for small children to access.
Button batteries burn when ingested or inserted in an ear or nose; wherever they have prolonged local contact with the body.
As the symptoms are similar to gastro or other childhood conditions with vomiting, drooling, or a cough, it can cause significant problems for diagnosis if a parent doesn’t know their child has swallowed or inserted a button battery.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer advised parents who believe their child may have swallowed a button battery to immediately take the child to a hospital emergency room. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not induce vomiting.
“Button batteries are responsible for at least two recent child deaths in Australia,” Mr Bauer said.
“Parents need to keep a very close eye on what they buy, and make sure anything powered by button batteries is not within reach of children.
Mr Bauer urged consumers to follow the helpful safety steps for parents and carers of young children:
- Check that toys or products with button batteries have a design that prevents easy access to the battery compartments for children. The battery compartment cover should be screwed in or need at least two independent movements to open.
- Be extra vigilant with items that do not have lockable compartments, such as musical greeting cards, frameless candles and some toys. Children should not be allowed to have access to these products if the battery compartment is not secure.
- Check toys and devices periodically to make sure the battery compartments are secure.
- Store spare button batteries in a cupboard out of reach of children. Ideally they should be locked away. Also make sure you dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous as they contain enough charge to cause a chemical reaction.
- Tell others about the risk associated with button batteries and how to keep children safe from this risk.
Button batteries can also be found in various children’s toys, TV remotes, cameras, watches, calculators, kitchen and bathroom scales, hearing aids and remote control devices.
Consumers who believe they have found unsafe products on sale in Queensland can report them to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
Businesses can find information on toy safety standards and product bans on this website.
General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)
Media contact: 07 3247 5968 or 07 3247 5965