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ACCC action on button cells

Posted on: March 4th, 2014

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is reminding parents and carers about the risks of button batteries. On 28 February Kidsafe Queensland launched its inaugural “Summer’s Day” to remember the children who die each year from unintentional, preventable injuries.

“Summer’s Day is named in memory of Summer Steer, a four-year-old girl who tragically lost her life in July last year after swallowing a button battery,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“These small, coin-sized batteries are everywhere in the home including in TV remote controls, kitchen and bathroom scales, flameless candles and tea lights, reading lights, calculators, hearing aids, talking books.”

“If toddlers or children find one of these batteries and swallow them, the battery can lodge in the child’s throat and cause a chemical reaction which burns through the oesophagus to the spine and into surrounding tissue in just a few hours. An average of five children present at hospital emergency departments around Australia each week after an incident involving a battery,” Ms Rickard said.

“The ACCC has been working with the battery industry on a number of initiatives to improve the safety of button batteries. For example warnings on the packaging of lithium coin cell batteries which highlight the danger if these batteries are swallowed have been developed by the ACCC in conjunction with the battery industry. New packaging, including these warnings, is now starting to appear on products sold in Australia. The ACCC is also working with industry towards the introduction of child-resistant packaging for button batteries,” Ms Rickard said.

“The ACCC has also been working with electrical safety regulators to mandate safer battery compartments in electronic equipment that uses a button battery and we expect to see progress in this area soon.”

SAFETY STEPS FOR PARENTS AND CARERS
– Keep coin-sized button batteries and devices out of sight and out of reach.
– Examine devices and make sure the battery compartment is secure.
– Dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous.
– If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, immediately go to a hospital emergency room. Do not let the child eat or drink and do not induce vomiting.
– Call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for additional treatment information.
– Tell others about the risk associated with button batteries and how to keep their children safe.