safekids news | April 2018 ISSUE No 79 9 BUTTON BATTERY SAFETY In February this year, the new Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Minister – the Hon Kris Faafoi - took steps to make button batteries safer for New Zealand’s tamariki. battery can generate enough current to cause harm. Internationally, there have been a number of deaths and serious injuries caused by button batteries. In New Zealand, as many as 20 children a year are hospitalised at Starship Hospital from accidentally swallowing button batteries. It is not always obvious when a child has swallowed a battery, so a lot of work has also gone into helping the medical fraternity and first responders to recognise the signs and to act quickly when they are suspicious. The Minister’s new initiative targets a different audience – industry. “If improvements are made by businesses, it mitigates the need to regulate the industry. We hope they will rise to the challenge and take steps to ensure harm reduction from these products,” says Martin Rushton. “The feedback we have had to-date shows a high level of support from the industry for this move and we’ll continue to monitor them to see what they do to improve safety. For example there are opportunities to make packaging more child resistant and securing spent batteries in the packaging of new batteries to prevent access by children,” Martin says. “We are already aware of one exciting New Zealand initiative that will be launched in the next few weeks that will provide an early warning and help alert parents if a child has swallowed a button battery.” “The aim is to get industry and businesses that know their products and supply lines, to take steps and find innovative ways to improve their safety” Hon Kris Faafoi (Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister) and Ailsa Claire (Chief Executive ADHB) AT LAUNCH OF POLICY STATEMENT His announcement of a Product Safety Policy Statement creates an opportunity for battery manufacturers and retailers to proactively manage the safety risks associated with their products. “The aim is to get industry and businesses that know their products and supply lines, to take steps and find innovative ways to improve their safety” says Martin Rushton Trading Standards Team Leader of Safety and Technical. Since the serious harms of small, coin sized batteries became apparent around 6 years ago, Safekids and Trading Standards, with support from battery manufacturing companies such as Energiser, have worked in partnership to develop strategies that promote awareness and advice on the safe use, manufacturing and packaging of these essential items which are present in watches, remotes, calculators and other common electronic devices found in most kiwi homes. Ongoing programmes have helped raise the awareness of parents and caregivers about keeping these batteries away from children. Once a child has swallowed a button battery or poked it up their nose or in their ear, the ‘clock is ticking’. When a button battery makes contact with the moist lining of a child’s throat, ear or nose for example, an electric current is generated in a process called hydralisation. Hydralisation can cause serious damage to internal tissue, in a very short period of time. Even a dead