Button Battery Safety
In Australia, an estimated 20 children per week present to an emergency department with an injury related to a button battery.
Despite government education campaigns and extensive media coverage, many parents remain unaware of the hazards that button batteries pose to children. Button batteries are attractive to young children as they are bright, shiny and easy to swallow.
Button batteries present a hazard wherever they have prolonged local contact with the body, whether they are ingested or inserted (eg in an ear or nose). Lithium button batteries contain a hidden danger when ingested as an electrical current is generated when they come into contact with saliva. This causes internal chemical burns and severe bleeding with damage being caused in as little as one to two hours. These injuries can occur even if the battery that is swallowed is old or spent.
Button batteries are used to power many consumer goods including TV remote controls, cameras, watches, calculators, greeting cards, scales, hearing aids, torches and many others. They are also being increasingly used in children’s toys, novelty items and LED lights.
Industry Code for Consumer Goods that contain Button Batteries
The NRA Technical Standards Committee has enacted major industry change surrounding the use and access to button batteries for children.
The NRA Technical Standards Committee working group devised the current “Industry Code for Consumer Goods that Contain Button Batteries” with input from the ACCC and consumer safety regulators. The Industry Code aims to reduce the risk of death and life threatening injuries to children from button battery ingestion.
As a retailer or manufacturer, there are practical ways to reduce the risk of children accessing button batteries in your products:
- Ensuring appropriate warning labelling accompanies the product;
- Securing battery compartments with a screw or another device that takes two independent movements to open;
- Considering child-resistant packaging for any products that contain button batteries.
Industry Code on Button Batteries
An Industry Code to reduce the risk of death and life threatening injuries to children from button battery ingestion has been developed by retailers, associations, and product safety consultants with input from the ACCC and state and territory consumer safety regulators. The Code recommends that suppliers of consumer goods include readily available safety features in their products, such as battery enclosures requiring the additional use of a tool to gain access to the batteries.
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