Commissioner's blog: Take charge of button batteries

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Children’s toys that light up and make noise are supposed to be fun, but lurking within many of these devices are a hidden danger – button batteries.

If young children gain access to just one button battery and ingest it, they may suffer internal burn injuries, which can result in serious illness and even death. That’s why it’s crucial for button batteries to be properly and adequately secured within the devices they power. 

During their annual show bag inspections ahead of the Perth Royal Show, our Product Safety officers discovered a torch contained button batteries that fell out of the device’s plastic case following a drop-test. As a result, the torch has now been withdrawn from sale.  

Halloween is another occasion when novelty items and costumes powered by button batteries appear on shop shelves, so Consumer Protection is urging parents and carers of children to be alert to the dangers and report any non-compliant items they find to us.

New safety regulations introduced in December 2020 should go a long way towards improving the safety of button batteries and help prevent injury to children. In Australia, one child a month is seriously injured after swallowing or inserting a button battery, with some of them sustaining lifelong injuries.

Manufacturers will have until 22 June 2022 to comply with the new regulations, which require:

  • products to have secure battery compartments to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries;
  • manufacturers to undertake compliance testing to demonstrate batteries are secure;
  • higher risk batteries to be supplied in child-resistant packaging; and
  • additional warnings and emergency advice on packaging and instructions.

Parents and carers of children are urged to supervise children using any battery-operated items and check all devices contain secure battery compartments.

If you suspect your child has swallowed or inserted a button battery, call the Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26, or contact 000 if your child is having any difficulty breathing.

Toys or other products with unsecured button battery covers can be reported to Consumer Protection at consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or 1300 30 40 54.

Gary Newcombe office interior
Gary Newcombe office interior , by CP Media

Gary Newcombe

Commissioner for Consumer Protection

2021 royal show torch.jpg
2021 royal show torch.jpg, by CP Media
This torch has been withdrawn from a show-bag after Product Safety officers discovered its button batteries were easily accessible.

 

Consumer Protection
Media release
30 Sep 2021

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