QLD: Hidden household hazards for children

Published: 
26 Feb 2014

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is urging parents to be aware of hidden dangers in common household items that can cause unintentional injury or death.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director David McKarzel said that parents need to be forever vigilant with these hazards and keep them out of the reach of children, particularly in light of several tragic deaths of young children recently.

"Parents assume that their children are safe in the home, and by following a few simple steps, they can be. But without proper use and close adult supervision, some everyday household items can lead to fatal consequences," Mr McKarzel said.

"Lithium button batteries are used in many toys and household electrical items such as remote controls, watches, hearing aids, bathroom scales and musical greeting cards.

"Serious injuries occur to children after swallowing these types of batteries including choking, soft tissue burns, perforation of the oesophagus or internal bleeding.

"If you think your child may have swallowed a battery, seek urgent medical attention."

Symptoms of swallowing a button battery include chest pain, coughing, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever.

What you should do:

  • Make sure that any toys that use button batteries have a secure battery compartment, such as a screw to ensure the battery stays in the toy even after some rugged wear and tear.
  • Keep coin-sized batteries, and household appliances that use them, out of reach of children.
  • Dispose of old batteries immediately and safely.
  • Tell others about the risk associated with button batteries and how to keep their children safe.

Other household dangers include:

  • Hair straighteners can heat up to more than 200 degrees in under 10 minutes and can take more than 30 minutes to cool down to a safe temperature. Keep hair straighteners and cords out of reach while they cool down.
  • Blind and curtain cords are a strangulation hazard if a child places their head in the loop created by the cord. Cut the cord so it does not form a loop, or tie the ends up out of reach.
  • Treadmills can cause serious friction burns to children if they come in contact with the moving platform. Keep children away from the treadmill while in use, and unplug it and raise the platform when not in use.
  • Portable pools are a drowning hazard, even with very little water. Close adult supervision is essential.

Summer Steer, a four year old from the Sunshine Coast, died in June 2013 after swallowing a button battery.

On Friday 28 February 2014, Kidsafe Queensland is hosting a teddy bear´s picnic at Captain Bourke Park at Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge will light up in rainbow colours to honour Summer´s memory and remember all the children who have lost their lives as a result of an unintentional injury.

More tips on household product safety can be found at www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au and information on Summer´s Day is available at www.summersday.com.au.

Contact details

Media contact: 07 3247 5968 or 07 3247 5965
All other enquires: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)