Paediatric experts have issued a stark warning to Australian parents about the deadly dangers posed by button batteries this Christmas.
From toys to flashing decorations and musical Christmas cards, these coin-sized threats can be lurking in every home at this time of year.
CPR Kids, an organisation consisting of paediatric experts, has shared confronting images showing just how toxic and potentially lethal the tiny hazard can be if swallowed by a child.
The photos were part of an experiment run by CPR Kids founder Sarah Hunstead on Facebook in 2019, but the organisation reshared the confronting images to warn of the risks in the lead up to Christmas.
A chicken fillet is covered black burns after just 30 minutes of being exposed to a single cell flat battery.
A second picture shows how much damage is done after four hours.
The electrical current in a button battery reacts with the moisture to produce an alkali chemical, which causes serious internal burns and bleeding, according to NSW Poison Information Centre.
The coin shaped batteries are easily caught in the oesophagus and start to cause damage immediately.
“Swallowing or inserting any button battery, old or new, can cause life threatening injuries and even death,” a statement on the NSW Poison Info website reads.
Parents are encouraged to:
Ensure the button battery compartment is completely sealed with a security feature such as a screw or a closure requiring at least two movements to open the compartment.
Check gift packaging for button battery contents and either remove batteries or warn the recipient.
Keep all household products with a button battery out of reach of children.
Dispose responsibly of button batteries in a bin that cannot be accessed by children.
Top 10 Christmas poison risks
Button batteries aren't the only dangers posed to children during the Christmas period.
In a blog post by CPR Kids, alcohol was named as the second biggest poison risk.
“Many adults like to enjoy a drink at Christmas celebrations. These drinks often look appealing to kids. Alcohol can be very toxic to kids so it is important that nobody leaves alcoholic drinks lying around,” the post read.
BBQ cleaning products were next on the list, followed by grandparents' medication.
“Easily accessible handbags with painkillers or prescription medications are a huge risk for little ones, who can become seriously ill if any are ingested.”
Slime projects can be a fun holiday activity or a popular gift but these products can be potentially poisonous, according to CPR Kids.
Borax, which is often used to make slime, was number five on the list of Christmas risks.
Families are also being encouraged to take extra care when it comes to storage, preparation and cooking methods when cooking up Christmas feasts.
CPR Kids said there’s an increase in food poisoning over summer as conditions are favourable for bacterial growth.
The organisation suggested these helpful tips:
Allow meat such as a Christmas turkey to completely defrost in the fridge before cooking.
Make sure seafood is fresh, stored in a cool environment out of direct sunlight, and not left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.
Do not pick any unknown berries or flowers from the garden as ingredients or decorations in food as they may be poisonous.
Do not leave food sitting out in the heat/sun/flies, once people are done be sure to store away any wanted leftovers quickly and properly.
One dessert in particular is also a cause for concern.
The Christmas pudding with coins tradition is meant to bring good luck, health, wealth and happiness to the lucky recipient but the use of coins can create toxic reaction with the acids in the dish – not to mention a choking hazard.
Another iconic Australian past-time could also be a real danger to children.
Pool chemicals was number 8 on the CPR Kids list, which warned of irritation, burns or respiratory symptoms if these chemicals are ingested, inhaled or come in contact with skin or eyes.
Just like slime making, science chemistry sets are also an exciting experiment but these can also be dangerous if handled incorrectly.
Parents should also be alert to toy magnets, which scraped in as the tenth biggest poison risk this Christmas.
“Swallowing magnets may cause life-threatening damage, particularly when they are attracted to one another across internal tissues such as the bowel.
“Ideally, any magnets in toys should be too large for a child to swallow, and activities involving magnets (and children) should be supervised.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.