August 12, 2012

Kidsafe Victoria has issued a red alert to parents about the dangers of children choking, suffocating or suffering serious internal injuries to their digestive system if small magnets are swallowed.
In late 2011, an 18-month-old Queensland toddler died after ingesting 12 small, round powerful magnets from a novelty product.

The warning follows an alert over a novelty adult product made up of small magnetic spheres. The product looks similar to the small silver balls used in cake decoration and could confuse small children into thinking the item is something to eat.
Melanie Courtney, Executive Officer of Kidsafe Victoria said, "There has been a major debate raging in the United States over the sale of these items for several months. The US Government regulator has recently moved to ban this style of product for child safety reasons. It’s important that parents in Australia are aware of the issues associated with these products."
Ms Courtney said, "The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is in the process of investigating the safety of these small magnets in Australia. Kidsafe are hoping to see them work with the State and Territory regulators to implement a national policy that will limit the dangers to children very soon." 
Parents should also make it a priority to visit the ACCC website and understand the dangers these products can pose if they are ingested, well as the actions and policies of the ACCC. 
Ms Courtney said that in the interim, Kidsafe is supporting the advice of Consumer Affairs Victoria Minister, The Hon Michael O’Brien. Minister O’Brien provided a release yesterday with advice for buying toys with magnets which included:

  • Make sure the toy is appropriate for the child’s age.
  • Check that the magnets cannot come loose easily.
  • Regularly check toys for signs of wear and tear, and always dispose of magnets if they come loose.

If you suspect a child has swallowed magnets, seek urgent medical help to prevent choking, suffocation, serious infections and death.
If you have purchased a toy you believe may be unsafe, contact Consumer Affairs Victoria’s Toy and Nursery Safety Line on 1300 36 48 94.