MEDICATION SAFETY TIPS

Little boy looking at camera with smileTHE RISE AND SHINE NEWSLETTER shared the following information about medication poisonings in kids, poison control centers, and poison help resources available to you.

Why is this important to you as a parent or caregiver?

Medications are the leading cause of child poisoning today. Each year, half a million parents call poison control because their child got into a medication they shouldn’t have or took more of their medication than prescribed. And those are the kids we know about! More children get brought to the Emergency Department for medication poisonings than for car crashes.

What exactly are we talking about when we say “medicine”?

Medicine can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter (OTC). Examples can include adult medicines, vitamins and supplements, children’s cough and cold medicines, children’s gummy vitamins, eye drops, and diaper rash products. Don’t be fooled into thinking over-the-counter medicines are safer than prescriptions. Both can cause serious harm to kids. Most poisonings in kids come from medicines you can buy without a prescription, like pain medications and anti-allergy medications.

What age group is most at risk for poisoning?

Toddlers! They are curious and on the move! And because they are so little, only one or two pills can cause serious harm.

Five tips for medication safety

So, what can you do as a parent to keep your child safe from accidental medication poisoning? Follow these tips!

  1. Always put medicines and vitamins “Up and Away” after every use. Never leave them on the counter. Don’t be tempted to “keep them handy” in a purse, backpack or briefcase, or in an unlocked cabinet or a drawer within a child’s reach. Lots of medications and vitamins taste good and can even look like candy! Kids can’t tell the difference between the two.
  2. Be sure you know if the medication packaging is “child-resistant” vs. “childproof”! Contrary to popular belief, child-resistant packaging does not mean that it is childproof. Child resistance means that the packaging meets a standard that requires it to be “significantly difficult for children under 5 years of age to open within a reasonable time, and not difficult for normal adults to use properly.” Research suggests child-resistant packaging account for about half of all accidental medicine poisonings in children.
  3. Always read and follow label instructions when giving medicines to children. Watch out for concentrations on prescriptions as they can change each refill.
  4. Only use the dosing device that comes with the medication. Never use a household utensil, such as a teaspoon or tablespoon, to measure medications.
  5. Talk to family members living with you or who watch your child about the importance of medication safety. More and more grandparents are living with us these days. Up to 20 percent of pediatric poisonings involve a grandparent’s medication.

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