LISTEN: Mum's Panicked Call For Help After Toddler Swallows 22 Button Batteries
An urgent warning has been issued to parents after a Queensland toddler swallowed 22 button batteries because she thought they were lollies.
Saphira, 2, was at home last Saturday evening when she got her hands on a packet of unopened button batteries as her mother was in the kitchen.
LISTEN TO THE EMERGENCY CALL ABOVE
Recalling the terrifying ordeal to reporters on Thursday, mum Hope said her daughter could not have been alone more than 20 minutes.
In that time she managed to find the packet and tear it open before swallowing almost the entire packet.
"It was a cardboard pack with a plastic sheet on the front," Hope said.
"All she had to do was rip it apart and the 'lollies', as she refers to them, popped out onto the bed."
Button batteries are powerful, coin-sized batteries that are found in a number of toys and household products -- including remote controls and kitchen scales.
Being small and shiny, they are often attractive to inquisitive children and can take a split second to swallow.
In a scary 000 call released by Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS), Hope can be heard asking Saphira to show her where she put the batteries.
The toddler pointed to her mouth.
Paramedics rushed to the family's home in Toowoomba before Saphira was airlifted to the Queensland Children's Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery.
She sustained superficial burns to her stomach and is expected to make a full recovery, but QAS said she was only an hour away from suffering permanent severe damage.
The terrifying ordeal has prompted a warning for parents ahead of Christmas.
Clinical Director Tony Hucker said the most important step is prevention and that Saphira was very lucky her mum found her and acted quickly -- despite the toddler showing no visible symptoms.
"It's really hard to pick this," Hucker told reporters.
"That's why they are silent killers."
"That's why we need to make sure we get them out of our houses and make sure our kids can't get their hands on them."
About 20 children present to hospital emergency departments every week in Australia due to a suspected button battery ingestion, Hucker said.
He added that out of those, at least one will have a severe injury from indigestion.
"The risk of death is real," he said.
"We need to understand that even though we might not see it often, it can be lethal."
Without treatment, the batteries can cause severe burns in the oesophagus, stomach, bowel or nostrils within one or two hours.
"The minute you but a button battery in a moist environment, it starts producing a charge, it starts burning and it starts causing damage," Hucker said.
"It will erode through the oesophagus very quickly and it can erode through a major blood vessel that can cause a fatal bleed and death."
What to do if you suspect one has been swallowed
It's important to call 000 immediately or head straight to your nearest hospital emergency department if you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery.
You can also call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for expert advice on what to do, SA Health said.
Do not induce vomiting or give the child anything to eat or drink.
Signs and symptoms include noisy breathing or chest pain, problems swallowing or drooling and vomiting blood.
How to prevent button battery injuries
Keep any loose button batteries, or household items you know contain them, out of reach.
Don't allow children to play with car keys or remote controls and check all toys to ensure they have screw-on battery covers that are not easily removed.
Parents are urged to throw away anything without a sufficient cover.
Saphira is now recovering at home and Hope says she's grateful her daughter has managed to come out of the ordeal with only minor damage.
"I went home and threw every single battery out of my house."
If you suspect a button battery ingestion or insertion, call Poisons Information on 131 126 for 24/7 expert advice.