Need to know
- Branded children’s thongs have been recalled by Big W because they contain button batteries that can be exposed due to wear
- Button batteries cause serious harm if ingested
- New mandatory safety standards are coming into effect this month, but you should still check for unsafe products in your home
Your children's footwear is hardly the first thing that springs to mind when you think of products that can contain potentially harmful button batteries.
But a certain type of children's thongs sold by Big W was brought to CHOICE's attention earlier this year by a concerned parent, who noticed that after her child wore the thongs, the battery in the sole became exposed.
Button batteries are found in many common household products, but many people are unaware of the dangers they can pose to children if inadvertently swallowed.
Three deaths since 2013
Since 2013, three children have died in Australia, 44 have been severely injured from incidents involving button batteries, and more than one child a month is seriously injured as a result of ingesting or inserting the batteries, which are contained in millions of consumer goods worldwide.
CHOICE raised the concern over these particular thongs with the ACCC – which then contacted the retailer, resulting in the recall of the product.
The thongs affected are:
- Star Wars
- Minecraft Light up Thongs.
All were sold in Big W nationally from 7 September 2020 until 11 May 2022. They are manufactured by Caprice Australia.
Big W advises: "Customers should immediately cease using the thongs and return the product to any Big W store for a full refund."
For more information, contact Caprice Australia on 03 9922 2500.
The importance of new button battery safety standards
CHOICE's head of policy and government relations Patrick Veyret says, "We regularly receive reports of harmful products from concerned members of the community and we pass these reports to the regulator.
"However, the onus shouldn't solely be placed on consumers to spot poorly designed and dangerous products. Businesses need to be accountable for the safety of the products they sell.
The onus shouldn't solely be placed on consumers to spot poorly designed and dangerous products. Businesses need to be accountable for the safety of the products they sellPatrick Veyret, CHOICE head of policy and government relations
"That's why it's so important the new world-first mandatory button battery standard comes into force this month. Products sold in Australia must now have secure battery compartments to prevent children from gaining access to button batteries.
"CHOICE also encourages the new Federal Government to introduce a market-wide general safety provision for manufacturers or retailers to proactively ensure that the products they sell are safe."
The devastating effects of button batteries
Fourteen month old Isabella Rees died in 2015 as a result of the damage a button battery caused when it lodged in her oesophagus. Her mum, Allison Rees, is dedicated to making sure everybody understands the potentially devastating effects of button batteries.
"It's great that the mandatory safety standard is finally coming into effect this year, but we still have these dangerous products in people's homes right now," says Allison. "They're still being sold by retailers and these are products that you might have for five years or longer. Children are still going to be at risk.
It's great that the mandatory safety standard is finally coming into effect this year, but we still have these dangerous products in people's homes right now. Children are still going to be at riskAllison Rees, button-battery campaigner
"When you're bringing a new product into your home, you don't necessarily think about how it flashes or how it's powered and if it's potentially unsafe. I'm trying to change the way people think about batteries so people understand how dangerous they can be and that they are in a lot of common products.
"There are so many household products that have button batteries that are unsafe for kids because they're easily accessible, and there are limited or no warnings on the packaging."
Button batteries are found in many common household items.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.