Button batteries are small round batteries used in a lot of items around your home. These items could be children’s toys, remotes, watches, or even your digital bathroom scales. Already in Australia these batteries have caused two child deaths after being swallowed.
Francesca Lever, the mother of a nine-month-old Leo, told the ABC that she suspected a problem when her son “had a rattling noise coming from his breathing”. She also stated at “for a couple of days he didn’t want to eat and then after he picked up after a couple of days he was trying to eat, but he kept gagging and vomiting”. Francesca took Leo to the hospital where an x-ray showed the lodged battery and he as rushed to surgery. Leo made a full recovery, but others have not been as lucky.
When the battery is ingested the body starts to break it down which can cause severe internal burns. Symptoms may also include fever, refusal to eat, and above usual drooling. If you suspect a child has swallowed a battery, it is important to get them to a hospital immediately.
Consumer group Choice is now working with Kidsafe Queensland and The Parenthood, a not for profit parent and carers group, to petition the Federal Government to introduce stricter safety guidelines for the batteries. These guidelines include child safe packaging and mandatory screwed compartments for any product that uses them. In most cases children get the batteries from products with an easily accessible battery compartment or that will open from a small drop.
If you have products that use these types of batteries and don’t have a screwed compartment, it is important to keep them up high out of reach of any small hands.