Saturday 24 February 2024
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Button batteries and magnets: Hidden dangers inside your home

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is leading a campaign to raise awareness among parents and carers about potential hazards to children associated with putting items in their mouths and ingesting them.

Button Batteries – Hidden dangers in your home

Some products in the household may contain items that can do severe harm if children swallow them, warns OPSS.

The use of button batteries in objects such as TV remote controls, and strong magnets in some products, poses a particular threat if a child swallows them.

The campaign is being backed by Sam McCarthy, a parent whose child had to have life-saving surgery after swallowing high-powered magnets, bought as a toy for an older sibling.

Twenty-two-month-old Becca McCarthy, swallowed 14 brightly coloured magnets that had been bought online as a present for her older brother.

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The high-powered magnets reconnected in her intestines and she had to have major surgery to remove them.

Because Becca couldn’t explain what had happened, her symptoms were at first put down to be gastroenteritis, before an x-ray revealed the true picture.

Mum, Sam McCarthy, said:

“Swallowing these type of objects is simply life threatening, and I wouldn’t want any parent to go through what we had to. Becca could have died.

“I bought the magnets online and I was totally unaware of the dangers – who would be? But just because you can buy things easily, it doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous.

“There are all sorts of things in homes that can cause serious injury or death to a child if ingested, and this campaign highlights exactly that.

“I’m fully backing this campaign and want to remind parents to be aware of what they are buying, where they are buying from, and how they can keep their children safe from what seems like everyday items in their homes.

If a child swallows magnets, they can be forced together in the intestines or bowels.

This squeezes the tissue and cuts off blood supply, which can quickly cause harm and kill.

Button batteries react with saliva to make caustic soda, which is highly corrosive – if a battery gets stuck in a child’s food pipe, it can burn a hole. This causes internal bleeding and can kill.

If you think your child has swallowed magnets or button batteries, take them straight to A&E. Take the product packaging, toy or gadget with you if you can.

If your child has swallowed magnets, they may have stomach pain, vomit, have a fever, or point to their throat or stomach. If your child has swallowed button batteries, they may be coughing, gagging, or drooling or pointing to their throat or stomach

Symptoms may not be obvious. It is important to act fast, even if there are no symptoms.

Don’t let your child eat or drink or make your child be sick, take them straight to A&E.

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