Shattered mum pleads for stricter laws on button batteries after toddler death

A mum whose toddler daughter died after swallowing a deadly button battery has joined the campaign for tougher safety laws to keep other children safe.

Melbourne mum Allison Rees’ 14-month-old daughter Isabella died after swallowing a button battery last year.

She wants tougher rules on the sale and use of the tiny batteries so other parents will never know the same heartache.

“I would like every single household item that contains batteries to be secured by a screw that isn’t able to be easily accessed by a child, in particular things like TV remote controls,” Allison told the ABC this week.

“We set up a Facebook page 12 months ago just trying to educate mums and dads, grandparents, everyone out there, on the dangers of button batteries.”

Emergency departments treat up to 20 children each week for button battery related incidents in Australia. Some are left horribly scarred after the batteries burn through their oesophagus. The injuries have been described as similar to a child drinking drain cleaner.

Consumer groups Choice and The Parenthood have labelled them the “common household killer” and are pushing the Federal Government for mandatory safety standards on all products containing button batteries, not just toys.

The Parenthood says only toys designed for children under three years are required by law to have secured battery compartments. Other everyday household items such as car keys, baby thermometers and remotes that contain button batteries have no safety standards.

Both groups want all button battery powered products to have a secure battery compartment, be sold in child-resistant packaging and have clear and concise warning labels, among other things.

button battery


Tragically, Isabella isn’t the first child to die in Australia after swallowing a button battery.

The lethal batteries are also blamed for the death of Queensland tot Summer Steer in 2013.


Mum Andrea Shoesmith says her four-year-old daughter’s symptoms were misdiagnosed until it was too late.

She recounts the whole awful ordeal as a warning to others in a special Kidsafe video.

“We never knew where the battery came from,” Andrea says.

“The main thing we want to come out of Summer’s death is we don’t want this to happen ever again.

“Once they put that battery in their mouths they do kill and if they don’t they can cause horrible horrible injuries.”

Choice wants all products that carry button batteries to have a screwed compartment to prevent the battery from coming out. It also wants button batteries to be sold in child-proof packaging.

“Button batteries are powerful, slim and light but they can also be lethal,” says Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey.

“It’s vital that the federal government acts to reduce the number of children ending up in emergency departments across the country having swallowed a button battery.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says regulators will discuss a two-year national strategy for improved safety on the batteries in June.

Babyology has reported previously on the dangers of button batteries to children, including on the death of US toddler Brianna Florer just days after Christmas. Her family had no idea she had swallowed the battery until it was too late.

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