Commissioner's Blog: Keep kids away from tiny killers

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They may well look like lollies to young eyes, but both button batteries and small high-powered magnets are capable of causing devastating internal injuries if swallowed.

The dangers have been highlighted in recent news reports on two young children who were hospitalised after ingesting these incredibly hazardous items in separate incidents.

Small high-powered magnets, which are promoted as shape-shifting toys, are so dangerous they were banned from sale in Australia over a decade ago. If two or more of the magnets are swallowed, they can attract and stick to each other across internal tissue, potentially causing the tissue to die or perforate, before leading to further complications like infection, sepsis and even death.  

Likewise, button batteries – which are used to power many devices in our homes – can be deadly if they burn through the oesophagus or stomach due to a chemical reaction that is triggered when they come into contact with saliva.

To protect children from the dangers of button batteries, new rules that became mandatory last year require warnings to be displayed on all products containing them, including advice to seek medical assistance if swallowed. Any toys or other products that are powered by button batteries must have a secure battery cover.

We recently sounded a warning for retailers to ensure they are complying with the new rules or face penalties, after our product safety inspections in Albany uncovered 15 items for sale that were wrongly labelled and failed to display the correct warnings to consumers.

Given button batteries are an enforcement priority for Consumer Protection, our officers will continue checking retailers around WA to ensure the laws are being upheld.

In the meantime, we want consumers to give careful consideration to the toys and devices they buy and how they’re powered. If you do decide to allow button batteries into your home, make sure they are kept away from young children and cannot be easily accessed.

If you spot non-compliant button batteries, devices containing them, or any small high-powered magnet products on shop shelves, report them to Consumer Protection at or call 1300 30 40 54.

Trish Blake Commissioner 2023
Trish Blake Commissioner 2023, by CP Media

Trish Blake

Commissioner for Consumer Protection


Consumer Protection
Media release
06 Apr 2023

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