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Button battery warning for Geelong Show

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Families at the Geelong Show have been warned about the hazards of swallowing button batteries inside show bag toys.

If swallowed, button batteries can become stuck in a child's throat and burn through the oesophagus in less than two hours.

This burning can lead to serious injury, requiring surgery, or death.

About 20 children a week present to emergency departments in Australia with button battery-related injuries – more than 1000 children every year, with children under the age of five at the greatest risk.

Geelong resident Sade Obagbemi warned parents about the dangers of button batteries, after her two-year-old daughter Peace had surgery at University Hospital Geelong in 2014 to remove a swallowed lithium-ion battery.

“I could see there was something wrong with her and noticed a lot of changes,” she said.

“My older son told me she had swallowed a battery and I didn't know how long it had been there.

“The GP said we needed to go the emergency department. She was unconscious so I started calling her name and she was vomiting. At Barwon Health, the doctors did x-rays that let us know the battery was stuck in her oesophagus, so they had to remove it through surgery.

“After the surgery, she was air-lifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital ICU, which was the scariest moment of my life.

“She wasn't breathing on her own for about 24 hours and we didn't know if she would be able to talk, but she’s recovered without damage and everything’s OK now as a six-year-old.”

Sade said she still didn’t know where the battery came from, but thought it could have been inside a toy.

“I don't have any of those kind of batteries now,” she said.

“I've read a lot of cases about them killing children and unfortunately some parents don't know the hazard.

“It's a miracle my son was there to tell me because I wouldn't have known.”

To prevent button battery-related death and injury, parents can:

  • Look for devices in homes containing button batteries;
  • Examine devices to make sure the battery compartment is secure;
  • Keep button batteries locked away, out of the sight and reach from children; and
  • Dispose of old button batteries immediately and safely.

Common items holding button batteries include watches, car remotes, calculators, remotes, electronic candles, hearing aids, kitchen scales and thermometers.

For more information on safe battery disposal, please visit the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative website at www.batteryrecycling.org.au/recycling/lithium-ion-batteries.

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