School Principals, Micheal Grogan (RBSS) and Desley Kirby (TCB), were briefed on the local button battery ingestion risks by Wilbur Fahey, Officer In Charge, TCB Ambulance, and CCLAC members Cheryl Zunic and Cherie Mason last month
If a child swallows a button battery it can get stuck in their oesophagus and burn through soft tissue in as little as two hours, causing serious illness or death.
Recovery can require feeding and breathing tubes, and multiple surgeries. Lifelong disability can result.
Wilbur Fahey, Officer In Charge, TCB Ambulance, says it is a severe and little known risk and far too common, “There are 20 suspected ingestions of button batteries received through emergency departments in Australia every week.”
Button batteries are used in a very wide range of consumer products such as television and garage remotes, kitchen scales, watches, calculators, cameras, jewellery, digital thermometers, promotional novelty products and many items attractive to small children.
Wilbur says under 5s are at risk: “Batteries the size of 10 cents are most responsible, however all batteries carry a significant risk.”
The Cooloola Coast Local Ambulance Committee are educating locals to the dangers of button batteries and practical advice to reduce the risk of ingestion.
These magnets are found at local libraries
“We’ve handed out fridge magnets to schools and childcare centres, and also made magnets available at libraries.”
Wilbur cautions, “Although we are targeting small children and their families, you need to be aware that grandchildren might be visiting – and that toys and even greeting cards may hold them.”
The national strategy includes child proof packaging which has been endorsed by suppliers, retailers and the ACCC.
“The LAC initiative will be beneficial if one child can be saved from being taken to hospital with suspected button battery ingestion.
“Button batteries are dangerous and small children are very, very curious. Let’s all work together and keep them safe.”