Button battery safety policy launched at Auckland City Hospital

Starship Child Health

Starship Child Health and Safekids Aotearoa welcome a new initiative from Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Hon Kris Faafoi to make button battery products safer for New Zealand consumers.

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to put out a Product Safety Policy Statement. Announced today by Minister Faafoi at Auckland City Hospital, the Statement creates a proactive opportunity for industry to make products safer.

As many as 20 children from around New Zealand are hospitalised at Starship each year from button batteries, with some requiring serious emergency operations and receiving permanent serious injuries.

Button batteries are manufactured offshore so the policy statement targets New Zealand suppliers and retailers and advises them on how to improve packaging, display and dispose of them, whilst highlighting ways to make them safer.

Dr Mike Shepherd, Paediatric Emergency Specialist and Starship’s Director of Medical and Community, says he welcomes the Product Safety Policy.

“Acid from an electrical current in the batteries, which are used in key remotes, calculators and even musical greeting cards, rapidly burns surrounding tissue, causing severe damage.

“Children and babies who have swallowed or put a battery up their nose are often left with a badly burned oesophagus or nasal septum.

“These cases can require quite intensive reconstructive surgery, cause permanent serious injuries and have caused death in patients overseas. These outcomes are extremely unpleasant and unfortunate when they could have been avoided through safety measures.”

Safekids Aotearoa Director Melissa Wilson says it’s great the industry is being encouraged to look more closely at making button batteries safer for children.

“It’s important that caregivers are aware of the risk and keep TV remotes, car keys and other devices with button batteries secured and out of reach of children, and ensure the batteries in these devices are securely fastened in case their kids do get hold of them.”

You can find more information on the Statement here (external link) .

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For media enquiries regarding Auckland DHB (including Starship Child Health and Safekids Aotearoa) please contact the Communications department phone 09 375 3499 or email
communication@adhb.govt.nz

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