While it may seem like common knowledge to store medications and vitamins out of the reach of children, each year one of every 150 two-year-olds ends up in an emergency room for an unintentional medication overdose, most often after getting into medicine while their parents or caregivers were not looking, according to Dan Budnitz, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's Medication Safety Program. Annually, more than 60,000 children age 5 or younger are treated in emergency rooms for accidental ingestion of household medicines.
"Parents may not be aware of the danger posed by leaving medications where young children can reach or see them," said Budnitz. "A few simple steps - followed every time - can protect our children."
In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) PROTECT Initiative, CDC and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) Educational Foundation created the Up and Away and Out of Sight educational program to help parents understand how to best store and safeguard the medicines they use at home so young children can't access them. Returning medicines to a safe storage location every time they are used can help prevent the accidental ingestions that drive many avoidable emergency room visits by young children each year.
"Children are curious and can quickly get into medicines or vitamins when parents and caregivers aren't looking. Our goal with Up and Away and Out of Sight is to emphasize to parents the importance of making sure medicines are safely stored in the home in 'up-and-away' places, rather than on bedside tables that kids can easily reach or in purses that kids love to rummage through," says Emily Skor, vice president of Communications and Alliance Development at CHPA.
Families should practice safe medicine storage year round. Whether it's during the winter when cough and cold season is at its peak, or in the spring and fall when many of us rely on allergy medications to treat our symptoms, always remember to remove vitamins and medicines from any areas that children could possibly reach; instead, put them up and away and out of sight every time they are used.
Use these tips and resources to make sure your child is always protected:
- Never leave medicine or vitamins out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child's bedside, even if you have to give the medicine again in a few hours.
- Always relock the safety cap on a medicine bottle. If it has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click.
- Never tell children medicine is candy so they'll take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.
- Tell children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them.
- Remind babysitters, houseguests, and visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.
- Program the poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your home and cell phones so you will have it when you need it.
Source: Tidewater Parent Magazine