Commissioner's Blog: Some fidget spinners can harm children
With Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
If you’re a parent or carer, it’s highly likely you’ve heard all about, or seen too much of, ‘fidget spinners’. Alternatively, you may have noticed the novelty items for sale online or at stalls in shopping centres and we know there are also promotional giveaways where you get them for free. For anyone who isn’t sure what they are, the small devices have a circle in the centre and either two or three outer points you spin while holding the middle.
‘Fidget spinners’ have been promoted as products designed to relieve stress. Our concern is that there are some product safety issues, which we and other consumer protection regulators across Australia are currently looking into.
Some ‘fidget spinners’ have button batteries to make them light up. Flashing coloured LEDs might be enticing but as with any button-battery powered product, the batteries must be secure – with a screw or locking mechanism keeping them in the compartment – to prevent children accessing and potentially swallowing them. If ingested, a button battery can cause serious internal injuries or kill!
Button batteries burn through soft tissue in just a couple of hours and there are videos readily available online showing this shocking process on pieces of ham. Stories about Australian children who have died or been left permanently disabled after ingesting button batteries are at www.productsafety.gov.au.
Consumer Protection WA’s product safety officers organised a voluntary recall, by Wangara-based supplier Ace of Hearts, of a light up ‘fidget spinner’ because the button batteries fell out when it was dropped. A Geraldton retailer called Under the Sun sold 141 units between 15 and 18th of May before we intervened and got them to stop selling them. People who bought those have since been advised to dispose of the item or return it to the store for a refund.
Another issue with ‘fidget spinners’ is that there are some designs in the shape of stars or with edges that are blade-like. These ‘fidget spinners’ can puncture or lacerate skin. An 11-year-old-boy in Victoria suffered a serious eye injury from a model with sharp edges.
A further general problem with ‘fidget spinners’ is the small parts, which pose a choking hazard to young children. For example, a ten year old girl in the United States swallowed one of the small parts and it became stuck in her oesophagus. Although ‘fidget spinners’ are not recommended for children under three, infants and toddlers, who are more at risk of choking on small parts because they’re yet to develop a gagging reflex, may get hold of a ‘fidget spinner’ that belongs to an older sibling. Parents and carers should be on the watch for these issues.
Injuries or safety incidents regarding fidget spinners should be reported to Consumer Protection by email email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
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