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BLOG: Tiny magnets, huge risks – help spread the word on the dangers of super strong magnets

Do the families of the children you work with know the dangers of super strong magnets?

Would they know what they are, where to find them, or what to do if they thought their child might have accidentally swallowed them?

We’ve seen a significant increase recently in the number of children who have been admitted to hospital needing emergency surgery as a result of swallowing super strong magnetic beads or balls. Tiny but powerful, super strong magnets can stick together in a child’s gut, pinching together and effectively burning through their intestines, causing serious and even life-threatening injuries.


Serious injuries

Many parents aren’t aware of just how much damage super strong magnets can cause, and where they can be found around the home. The tiny high strength magnets, sometimes up to 10 times stronger than ordinary magnets, may look harmless but the damage caused if they’re accidentally swallowed can be catastrophic. They can be found in everyday items such as fridge magnets, jewellery kits and even children’s toys and building sets.

It only takes a few seconds for a curious toddler to pop something shiny and colourful in their mouth. It may not be obvious that they have swallowed these tiny magnets. While older children can tell you what they’ve done, younger children may not be able to and by the time symptoms start to show, they may have already suffered a serious, possibly life-threatening injury to their bowel.

Parents have spoken out about the horrors of discovering their child had swallowed super strong magnets while playing and the anguish of them being urgently admitted to hospital to remove them.

It’s not just young children who are at risk. Recently, doctors have been treating more tweens and teens who have accidentally swallowed super strong magnets after copying trends on social media.  Removing the magnets can be difficult and need complex surgery, which is extremely distressing for both the child and their family. No parent should have to experience what these families have been through. 

That’s why the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) are working with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons to raise awareness of the dangers of super strong magnets and the steps we can all take to keep children safe.

Keeping children safe – how you can help to spread the word

Visit the magnet safety hub on the CAPT website to find out more. On the hub you’ll find:

  •  Advice to share with parents
  • Case studies to bring the dangers to life
  • A flyer, leaflet, poster, and digital assets, free to download and share
  • News articles

You can help more families to understand the dangers of super strong magnets and the devastating injuries they can cause by sharing what you’ve learned with the parents you work with. Whether you have a quick face-to-face chat at pick-up time, pop a flyer in bags to go home or hold a group session – everything you share with parents and carers helps to raise awareness. If you’re short on time, simply connecting with CAPT on Facebook and Twitter and sharing our posts means the families who follow you will know about the dangers.

As trusted childcare professionals at the heart of the family network, you can play an important part in helping us to keep children safe and preventing the horror of an accident and serious injury.

Everything you need to know about magnet safety


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