Family warns of potential danger lurking under Christmas tree


A Sydney family has gone public to warn parents of the danger lurking under the Christmas tree this year.

Their advice comes after their six-year-old son swallowed a tiny lithium battery.

Potentially deadly button batteries are found in all sorts of products and gadgets, from games and toys to greeting cards, flameless candles, key fobs, bathroom scales and torches.

They are ingested by approximately 20 children a week, often in the family home.

Joshua, pictured here with his mum Meggan, swallowed a button battery found on the floor of a doctor’s waiting room. Source: 7News
Joshua, pictured here with his mum Meggan, swallowed a button battery found on the floor of a doctor’s waiting room. Source: 7News

But for young Joshua, it was actually on the floor of a doctor’s waiting room where he found and swallowed the tiny battery.

“At the doctor’s waiting room he was jumping around and he happened to find something under the couch in the waiting room while he was playing and it turned out to be a battery,” Joshua’s dad Simon said.

“It felt nice and smooth between my fingers so I put it on my tongue,” Joshua explained.

“Just before bedtime Joshua said to me as an aside, ‘by the way, I swallowed a battery today’,” his mum Meggan said.

The button battery travelled through Joshua’s intestines, and after nineteen hours, it was finally out of his system.

The button battery had travelled through Joshua’s intestines, and, after nineteen hours, out of his system. Source: 7News
The button battery had travelled through Joshua’s intestines, and, after nineteen hours, out of his system. Source: 7News

Most children aren’t so lucky.

Button batteries are the perfect size to get stuck in the windpipe, nose or ear, where they quickly burn the soft tissues like caustic soda.

“We were very concerned, we know it can be fatal,” Joshua said.

Button batteries are the perfect size to get stuck in the windpipe, nose or ear, where they quickly burn the soft tissues like caustic soda. Source: 7News
Button batteries are the perfect size to get stuck in the windpipe, nose or ear, where they quickly burn the soft tissues like caustic soda. Source: 7News

NSW Minister for Fair Trading Matt Kean said parents should be mindful of which products around the house contain button batteries.

“Make sure you keep them out of the reach of children and if you think a child may have ingested a button battery, call the Poisons Hotline immediately on 13 11 26,” he said.

Parents should also regularly check that battery compartments are completely sealed and unable to be opened by a child.

Batteries also need to disposed of carefully, with many local councils providing battery recycling depots.

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