Doctors are warning that a hidden danger could be lurking under your tree this Christmas: unsafe toys containing button batteries that, if swallowed, could burn through a child’s food pipe.
Shockingly, energy from powerful 5p-coin-sized lithium coin cell batteries reacts with saliva to create caustic soda, the chemical used to unblock drains.
The chemical reaction can cause severe internal bleeding and even death.
Children can be left with life-changing injuries, for example, they may never be able to eat or speak normally.
This can happen in as little as two hours, however it can take days or even weeks.
In the UK, children’s toys are covered by safety regulations which require batteries to be enclosed in a secure compartment that can’t easily be opened by a child.
However, the number of dangerous toys sold online to unsuspecting families is on the increase – so it’s important to be extra cautious.
“We’re urging parents to watch out when buying toys this Christmas,” said Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust.
“In particular, if you buy from an online marketplace, toys may not meet UK safety standards.
“That’s because online marketplaces are simply offering a shop window to sellers around the world and aren’t legally required to check if a toy is safe before allowing it to be sold.”
- Buy toys from a trusted brand
- If you can, it’s best to head to a reputable retailer or buy direct from the websites of well-known brand names.
- If you’re buying from an online marketplace, enter a reputable brand name when you search for the toy you want, to be sure it’s safe.
- Be aware ‘flat’ batteries can still be dangerous
- Even if a battery no longer has enough energy to power a toy or gadget, it can still hold enough charge to burn a child’s food pipe if they swallow one and it gets stuck.
- Keep your used ‘flat’ batteries well out of children’s reach, high up in a sealed container and recycle them as soon as you can.
- Check Christmas novelties for button batteries
- Novelty items like singing Santas and flashing Christmas wands – and also gadgets like battery-powered tea lights – can contain button batteries that are easily accessible by children.
- They might look like toys, but because they’re classed as novelties they don’t have to meet the same safety standards.
- If you’re worried, keep them well out of reach of children
- Supervise the big unwrap
- It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on children when they’re unwrapping presents on Christmas Day.
- If you’re worried a present given by a well-meaning relative might not be safe, you can quietly move it somewhere safe until you can look at it more closely.
- Check packaging for spare button batteries that could be easily swallowed and store them – with any others you have in stock – in a sealed container in a high cupboard, well out of children’s reach.
You’ll find lots more information and safety tips – and what to do in an emergency – on the button battery safety section of our website.
🎄 We hope you and your family have a happy and safe Christmas! 🎄