Parents warned over ‘potentially lethal’ button batteries

Button batteries can be lethal if ingested.
Button batteries can be lethal if ingested.

PARENTS are being warned about the potentially lethal danger of button batteries after household products failed a safety test by a consumer watchdog.

While toys designed for children under three-years-old are legally required to have secured battery compartments, common household items are self-regulated by a voluntary code.

But CHOICE says the industry is largely ignoring the voluntary standard for button batteries which have a potentially lethal threat to young children.

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It submitted 17 products to a safety test evaluating battery size, battery accessibility, durability and labelling.

A total of 10 products, including an ear thermometer, pet lead, digital luggage scale and a remote control, failed to make the voluntary standard.

Every week around 20 children present to hospital emergency departments across Australia due to a suspected button battery ingestion or insertion.

A spokesman for CHOICE said: “Button batteries are everywhere these days, powering everything from medical devices to musical birthday cards.

“But there’s a price to pay for the convenience: button batteries have long been a potentially lethal threat to young children, who ingest them at an alarming rate,” he added.

Paediatrician Dr Ruth Barker said button batteries should be treated as a poison.

“Industry has known about the hazards posed by button batteries for more than 40 years, yet it is only recently that battery manufacturers have started selling batteries in child-resistant packages.

“Although the poisons information number is commonly displayed on household chemicals, I have yet to see battery packaging that carries this vital information.”

 

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