In many family homes, the winter holidays bring extra cheer but also some extra hazards for young children. An important one to keep in mind is button batteries and lithium coin batteries, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries if swallowed. These small batteries are found in items throughout many homes any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. Think twinkling holiday decorations, for example, or newly opened gifts of electronic toys and gadgets.
Use this room-by-room winter holiday walkthrough to help locate items that may contain small batteries. Then, you can take steps to ensure your child can't access them. For more information on how to safely use and store lithium coin and button batteries—and what to do without delay if your child ingests one—see "What Parents Need to Know About Button Batteries & Lithium Coin Batteries.")
Look for small batteries in lighted decorations such as wreaths, garland, flameless candles, ornaments and musical greeting cards that arrive in the mail. Button batteries and lithium coin batteries may also be found in items left by the door, such as light-up shoes and key fobs in purses and jackets.
Make sure young children can’t open the battery compartment of any new electronic toys, games or remote controls. If the items are not secured with a screw, consider taping them shut. If you’re using a digital camera to take photos, remember that these may contain button or lithium coin batteries, too.
Check cooking accessories such as kitchen scales and meat thermometers that may contain lithium coin or button batteries. Store extra batteries up and away, avoiding cabinets and drawers that young children can get into. When you buy new button and lithium coin batteries, look for safety features such as blister packaging. And when you replace "dead" batteries, wrap the old batteries in tape right away to recycle or put them in the trash outside your home.
Check the battery compartments in string lights and light-up accessories like necklaces and earrings. Children's books that play sounds may also contain small batteries. If you have grandparents or other relatives staying with you, remind them to keep items such as hearing aid batteries out of reach of little ones.
Wintertime is often when colds, flu and other respiratory viruses hit their peak. If you have the thermometer out to check for fever, be sure to put it back away since electronic thermometers contain small batteries. Also make sure the batteries in digital bathroom scales are secure.