An Australian regulator has urged parents to keep AirTags away from children for safety reasons. It follows a major Australian chain store withdrawing Apple’s location trackers from sale for the same reason. At least one regulator in another country is also said to be examining the safety of AirTags.

Although AirTags are designed to meet child safety standards, two concerns have been raised …

Background

AirTags are powered by a CR2032 battery, a common lithium cell button battery used in watches and many small devices. Around 20 children per week in Australia are taken to the ER after swallowing them. In the past eight years, three of these children died, and 44 were seriously injured.

The most dangerous scenario is that the battery gets lodged in a child’s throat and then leaks, causing the lithium to burn through body tissue. This can cause catastrophic bleeding, leading to death or serious injury within a couple of hours of the battery being swallowed.

To protect children from small items that would be dangerous if swallowed – like medicines and button batteries – international child safety standards call for a “push and twist” mechanism to be used on containers and casings.

The battery compartment on AirTags does use this type of mechanism, but concern had been expressed that only a very light push is required, and that children might be able to easily open them. An additional concern has now been raised that users might think they have closed the battery compartment when it is in fact not locked, making it even easier for children to open.

Back in May, Officeworks – a large retail chain with over 160 stores across Australia – withdrew AirTags from sale. In response, Apple added a warning to the packaging.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has today issued a warning, highlighting the risk that the battery compartment could be unlocked when owners think it is locked.

The ACCC is urging parents to ensure Apple AirTags are kept out of the reach of young children, as the ACCC has raised safety concerns with Apple about the accessibility and security of the button battery inside the product […]

The ACCC is concerned that the AirTag’s battery compartment could be accessible to young children, and the button battery removed with ease. In addition, the AirTag battery compartment’s lid does not always secure fully on closing, and a distinctive sound plays when an AirTag’s lid is being closed, suggesting the lid is secure when it may not be […]

“We are also liaising with our international counterparts on the safety of Apple AirTags, and at least one overseas public safety regulator is also examining the safety of this product at this stage.”

The organization acknowledged that Apple had added a warning, but said this didn’t go far enough.

“We note that Apple has now added a warning label to the AirTag’s packaging. However, this alone does not address our fundamental concerns about children being able to access the button batteries in these devices,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Parents and others caring for children are urged to watch the warning video below. (For the avoidance of doubt, this is a generic warning video about button batteries, and does not show an AirTag.)

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Keep AirTags away from children for safety, warns Australian regulator
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