16 May Button Batteries alert
Choice Magazine (January 2023) and Alison and Andrea’s ‘Australian Story’ (ABC Feb 15th 2021 available on iView) warned parents about the dangers of the small button batteries. Each week in Australia, Choice reports 20 children end up in hospital with potential battery injuries, with two button battery-related deaths in Australia to date.
Australia’s new button battery safety laws took effect in June 2022
The batteries are easy enough for a small child to swallow and it seems that in the two deaths attributed to these batteries, the parent didn’t even know that their child had swallowed it. The batteries are enticing to small children and once swallowed they let off a small electrical current causing severe localised burns within two hours, with very few symptoms parents can notice.
It’s amazing that we are still highlighting this problem as toys for children under 3 must legally have secured battery compartments. It’s the other places that button batteries can be found that is where the danger lies as the voluntary self-regulation is not being followed by many manufacturers.
Try to look at every battery-powered device around your home where children can be and check that they are secure and can only be accessed by a tool like a screwdriver.
These are some items you should look at: watches, remote controls, thermometers, games, toys, hearing aids, calculators, bathroom scales, musical greeting cards, key fobs, electronic jewellery, cameras and candles.
There may be no symptoms at all but if your child swallows a button battery, look for:
Not wanting to eat or drink
In addition, if your child should put the battery in a nose or ear (more common) check also for:
- Fluid drainage coming from ears or nose
- Pain or swelling around the ears or nose
If in any way unsure take the child to an emergency department immediately.
Our need for smaller, advanced technology means that the need for these batteries will rise. Being aware of the problem is half the battle so make sure you check around when visiting friends and relatives. At least share this information with them, so they are aware and can check their own household items for you!
Choice reported on button batteries in 2016 and again in this issue