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Parents demand Canberra act on unsafe products

Some children's products have up to 98% failure rate on CHOICE tests

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An analysis of CHOICE test data has found key products designed for children still pose a risk on store shelves as doctors, industry, experts and parents converge on Canberra today to demand action.

The data shows:

- Portable cots (60 tested from 2011–2018*): 98% or 59 failed.
- Strollers (163 tested from 2012–2019): 83% or 136 failed.
- Cots (173 tested from 2012–2019): 59% or 102 failed.
*Most recent test conducted

Available as an embeddable infographic:

https://infogram.com/childrens-products-fail-choice-tests-1hd12y95q08q6km?live 

CHOICE also warns that inaction on button batteries is a sleeper issue with an investigation earlier this year finding 10 out of 17 button battery powered household items were dangerous.

"The Australian government should make it illegal to sell unsafe products. New safety laws would see companies face large fines for flooding the Australian market with unsafe junk," says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.

"We need stronger laws to curb the risks associated with unsecured button batteries and other products that we already know are unsafe but are still being sold." 

Joining product safety campaigners in Canberra are parents Andrea Shoesmith and Allison Rees who have both lost children to button batteries and will be sharing their stories with parliamentarians. CHOICE will also be joined by representatives from the Australasian Furnishing Association and the medical sector.

"Businesses should be legally required to take reasonable steps to make sure the products they sell are safe. It's really that simple. Without this reform, people will continue to be hurt and even killed by dangerous products like button battery powered devices. It's essential that parliament be forced to take this problem seriously and legislate a solution."

"Two children have died in Australia after ingesting button batteries and there have been at least 17 cases of children being seriously injured in Australia since December 2017.[2] The batteries are shiny, smooth and easy to swallow and there can be little indication anything is wrong until it is too late."

Over 25,000 Australians have joined CHOICE's campaign asking for the Federal Government to act: choice.com.au/productsafety

Media contact: Jonathan Brown, CHOICE Media 0430 172 669

Photos, video and infographics available on Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fww9sck0hxbzlij/AABy9ZbhcXkJhu0nCR6GJecSa?dl=0 

CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland will be available for interview from Canberra.

CHOICE Director of Campaigns Erin Turner will be available for interview from Sydney.

Andrea Shoesmith and Allison Rees will be available for interview from Canberra.

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Editor's notes:

Andrea Shoesmith's daughter, Summer Steer, passed away in June 2013 after swallowing a button battery. She is frustrated that six years later, very little has changed.

"These things [button batteries] are like loaded guns and they're everywhere. I feel like we're being fobbed off," Shoesmith says.

Nothing can bring Summer back, but Andrea is fighting for reforms to protect other children like her. 

"She was just so beautiful," says Shoesmith. "People used to stop us all the time and tell her how beautiful she was."

Allison Rees lost her daughter Bella in the same circumstances, nearly a year and a half after Summer's death. 

"It's been four years since I lost Bella and there have been countless injuries to children because of button batteries. Some can't eat, have breathing injuries, others are paralysed. Something should have been done a lot earlier," Rees says.

"It's too late for Bella, but it's not too late for everyone else and I want to do all I can to protect the kids of Australia."

For more information go to https://www.choice.com.au/productsafety

Safety tips

- If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, immediately call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or go to a hospital emergency room. Do not let the child eat or drink, and do not induce vomiting.
- Keep all button battery operated devices out of sight and out of reach of children.
- Examine devices and make sure the battery compartment is secure.
- Dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous.
- Tell others about the risk associated with button batteries, and how to keep their children safe.

Available as embeddable infographic: https://infogram.com/button-batteries-safety-tips-1hxr4znken8e4yo?live