If you're a parent using Apple's AirTag item tracker, you need to know about this deadly hazard2
One of the features of Apple's AirTag tracking device is the fact that the battery can be replaced by the user. But that is actually a negative according to a retail chain in Australia called Officeworks. On Reddit (via GizmodoAustralia) potential AirTag buyers discovered that they could no longer purchase the product in-store or online from the retailer.
AirTag device banned by Australian retailer as a possible choking hazard for children
According to one Redditor who was hoping to use a voucher he obtained from Officeworks to buy the tracking device, a store employee told him that the chain had pulled it because the small button battery that powers each AirTag is easily accessible by curious children. And we're sure you can imagine what is next; the children put the battery in their mouths and it becomes a choking hazard. Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the regulator in charge of protecting consumers in the country, has verified this to Gizmodo Australia.
An Officeworks spokesperson, commenting on the chain's decision to pull the AirTag item tracker via email, wrote, "The Apple Air Tag range will temporarily be unavailable for purchase from Officeworks. The product will not be stocked by Officeworks until further guidance is provided from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Officeworks continues to work with Apple to address any safety concerns."
While the official response from Officeworks didn't mention the concern about children putting the product's battery in their mouth. However, Apple's response hints that this is the problem as the the company said, "AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards, including those in Australia, by requiring a two step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery. We are following the regulations closely and are working to ensure that our products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labeling, well ahead of the timeline required."
Apple is reportedly working on revising the AirTag packaging and adding warnings in Australia to comply with new regulations that take place on June 21st 2022.Australia is sensitive to the issue of children swallowing button batteries since three children have died from doing this since 2013 and 20 kids visit an ER on average each week. In 2020, the ACCC ran a countrywide promotion warning about the dangers of button batteries.
Introduced and released last month, the AirTag system works with the U1 ultra-wideband chip found in iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 series models to give precise directions to find a missing or lost item. Older iPhone models use Bluetooth to help users find items lost nearby. In Lost Mode, nearly one billion active Apple devices will receive a notification when they are close to an AirTag. Tapping the AirTag to their NFC enabled phone (including an Android device) will reveal information to contact the owner of the lost item.
The ACCC has certain rules that suppliers must follow and it hints that Apple should have taken action before shipping the product. In a statement, the retailer stated that "If a supplier finds that a product they supply is unsafe, the ACCC expects the supplier to conduct a voluntary recall to advise consumers of the risk, address the safety issue, or remove the product from the market. If a supplier becomes aware of a serious injury, illness or death caused by a product they supply, the supplier must make a mandatory injury report through the Product Safety Australia website."
So far, there are no reports that anyone has been hurt by an Apple AirTag. And in Australia, the device is available from certain retailers indicating that the ACCC has yet to issue any nationwide ban involving Apple's AirTag device. The AirTag uses the CR2032 button battery that is used on glucometers (which measure diabetic's blood sugar), some clocks, and other devices.