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Button Batteries Pose a Deadly Hazard for Children - a Clear and Present Danger in all Homes

An estimated 20 Australian children present to an emergency department every week with a button battery related injury

Kidsafe Victoria supports calls for tougher safety regulations and a mandatory safety standard for products containing button batteries, in a bid to reduce the rates of serious childhood injury and death.

The call comes ahead of the release of the coronial inquest findings into the death of one-year-old Isabella ‘Bella’ Rees, who passed away in February 2015 after a button battery became lodged her oesophagus. The findings are due to be issued by the Coroner at 10am Thursday April 4th.

In Australia, button battery safety is only mandated for toys designed for children under the age of 3 years. These are legally required to have secured battery compartments. Other products are self-regulated by a voluntary industry code which calls for button battery compartments to be safely secured and for products with button batteries to have warning labels. However, recent investigations conducted by CHOICE showed that 10 out of the 17 products tested failed to meet the voluntary code, with the button batteries in the products being easily accessible.

Kidsafe Victoria supports:

  • A mandatory industry standard for button batteries
  • The introduction of a General Safety Provision
  • Proposed packaging amendments including mandatory child resistant packaging and single use packaging of retail batteries
  • An investment into the education regarding button batteries to new parents; every year in Victoria there are over 80,000 babies born, with 35,000 of these to new families. Parents, grandparents and other carers need to receive information about how to keep their babies safe

Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, said, “Children under five years of age are at greatest risk and with so many common products using button batteries, one of the major dangers is that a small child can swallow a battery without anyone hearing, seeing or knowing.”

“If ingested, a button battery can become stuck in a child’s throat where saliva immediately triggers an electrical current which causes a chemical reaction that can burn the oesophagus in as little as two hours, causing severe life-threatening injuries and in some cases death.”

“These batteries are found in many common household items such as remote controls, calculators, bathroom scales, car keys, toys, watches, talking books/cards, hearing aids and flameless candles.”

Together with calls for tougher safety standards, Kidsafe Victoria is urging all parents, carers and family members to conduct regular button battery audits of areas in and around their homes and put in place measures to reduce the risk of children accessing and ingesting these batteries.

“Many products come with button batteries already installed. People may be surprised at just how many items in and around their homes contain them and could be posing a hazard to their children or children who visit their homes”, said Mr Chambers.

Button Battery Continuous Home Audit

  • Identify items with button batteries
  • Examine all devices and make sure the battery compartment is secure
  • Keep loose batteries and items with unsecured battery compartments locked away out of the sight and reach of children
  • Dispose of old button batteries immediately and safely – a flat button battery can still cause serious and life-threatening injuries if ingested
  • If you suspect a child may have swallowed a button battery, don’t wait for them to show symptoms, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (24 hours, 7 days a week) immediately for expert advice
  • Tell others about this threat and share these steps.

The symptoms caused by swallowing a button battery can look like other childhood illnesses and may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing, or
  • Fever

Kidsafe Victoria’s ‘Button Battery Safety’ campaign provides a range of information, advice and resources for parents, carers, GP’s and hospital clinicians on the dangers posed by button batteries. More information can be accessed via https://www.kidsafevic.com.au/home-safety/button-batteries.



Australia Day Party Toddler Drowning Alert Parents Urged to Check Pool Barriers and Gates

67% of toddler drowning incidents in 2017/2018 occurred in swimming pools

Kidsafe Victoria today said with thousands of traditional BBQ's and pool parties held across the Australia Day long weekend it is vital all pool owners check their Pool Barriers and Gates are in good working condition and ensure the pool or spa is supervised by an adult when in use.  

Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria said, "Research has shown that adult supervision is the first line of defence in reducing toddler drowning incidents, with pool and spa barriers and gates providing crucial support."

"Children drown quickly and silently, which is why it's important that they are actively supervised in and around water - for toddlers, this means having an adult within arm's reach at all times.”

"When there are lots of adults around at a backyard BBQ or pool party, it can often seem like there is extra supervision for children. However, quite often in these situations everyone assumes that someone else is actively supervising the kids when in fact, nobody is," Mr Chambers said.


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The warning comes as recent figures from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia's National Drowning Report show that in 2017/18, 18 Australian children aged 0-4 years drowned. The majority of these incidents (67%) occurred in swimming pools.

CEO of the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Victoria, Chris Samartzis, highlighted the importance of pool and spa owners conducting regular checks of their barriers, saying "Pool and spa barriers are exposed to the extremes of weather all year round which can lead to rust, loose or missing bolts or screws and wear and tear over time. It's critical that pool and spa owners regularly check and maintain their barriers to ensure they are safe and fully compliant."

Kidsafe Victoria’s ‘Safe Barriers Save Lives’ campaign is proudly supported by SPASA Victoria, Safetech Hardware Australia, Protector Aluminium and the Victorian Pool Check Compliance Agency. For further information on the campaign and to access resources including the Victorian Building Authority's pool barrier checklists, please visit  www.kidsafevic.com.au 

Kidsafe Victoria's summer pool safety tips: 

  • Children need to be actively supervised by an adult in and around water at all times. For toddlers, this means having an adult within arms' reach.
  • Appoint designated supervisors at BBQ's and pool parties whose role it is to supervise the kids in and around the pool. This role can be shared throughout the day so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy the festivities.
  • Ensure that your pool barrier is secure and in proper working order.
  • Never prop the pool gate open, this allows children easy and often unsupervised access to the pool area.
  • Learn CPR and update your skills regularly. Resuscitation signs are a good reminder to be kept near pools.
  • Toddlers can drown in as little as a few centimetres of water, so be mindful of other potential outdoor water hazards including eskys with melted ice, wading/inflatable pools and ponds.

Common non-compliance issues with pool barriers:

  • Gates and doors that don't self-latch or self-close
  • Climbable objects near the barrier e.g. pot plants, chairs, pool pumps near the pool barrier which could allow a child to climb over the fence
  • Excess space under the barrier, and;
  • Misuse (e.g. propping the pool gate open)

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Launches Kids In Cars Summer Safety Program

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The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, in conjunction with Kidsafe Victoria, will today launch its Kids in Cars community awareness campaign ahead of the influx of an estimated 140,000 visitors to the popular summer destination, for the Christmas holidays.

Between 1st September 2017 and 31st August 2018, Ambulance Victoria responded to 1587 callouts for people locked in cars across Victoria, with the vast majority being cases involving toddlers and babies.

The Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Cr. David Gill, said that the introduction of the campaign is timely with the start of the summer holiday period.

“The temperature inside a parked car can be 20 to 30 degrees hotter than outside. On a typical summer day, the temperature inside a car could be well over 60 degrees - leaving the windows down has little effect on the temperature rise.” 

Cr. Gill said the first stage of the campaign will see Kidsafe Victoria’s ‘Do Not Leave Children in Cars’ signs placed on the front doors of all Preschools and Early Childhood Centres, Council Offices, Libraries and Maternal Health Care Nurse facilities in the municipality.

“The campaign will mean thousands of parents and carers will be constantly reminded about the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles and will also stimulate important discussion among the public about this life-threatening issue.

“The signage will also be extended to the entry of other car parks across the municipality.”

Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, highlighted the dangers of leaving children in cars and commended the actions of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council in raising awareness of the issue.

“Leaving a child unattended in a car, even for a short period of time, is dangerous. A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adults, placing them at greater risk of dehydration and life threatening heatstroke.”

“The direct action by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is a major step in supporting the community and the efforts of Kidsafe Victoria, Government, emergency services and health authorities, in raising awareness of this important issue,” said Mr Chambers.

“The message from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Kidsafe Victoria is clear - if you are travelling with a child in a car and you need to leave, make sure you take the child with you. While the campaign specifically focuses on children, Cr. Gill noted there are other members of the community who are also vulnerable in the heat.

“The same messages apply for the elderly and our pets – never leave them unattended in a car on a hot day.”

How to Join the KIDSAFE Victoria Do Not Leave Children in Cars Campaign


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