Kids seem to get into everything. From finding things in your kitchen cabinets, to poking around in your bathroom drawers, children are curious creatures. Which means you need to protect them from child poisoning from consuming medications.
Child poisoning is a serious threat. But there are ways to prevent your little ones from coming into contact with medications. If you’re smart about how and where you store your medicines, you’ll reduce the risk of child poisoning happening in your home.
Read on for more on the dangers of child poisoning from medications, and how to prevent it.
Some scary stats
Unfortunately, child poisoning from medications is not a rare event. Hopefully by reading the following facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on adverse drug effects in children, you’ll be motivated to make sure your pills and prescriptions are safe and secure. After all, medications can look and taste like candy—enticing to any child.
- Every year, 53,000 children under age five are brought to emergency rooms due to unsupervised digestions.
- In children less than five years old, the number one cause of emergency room visits is children eating or drinking medications without adult supervision.
Keeping medicine out of reach
Not only should you keep medicine out of reach of children and babies, you should also keep it out of sight. If they can see it, they will likely try to find a way to get into it. This includes not only medicines, but vitamins as well. Especially the “gummy” variety of vitamins that look exactly like candy.
The best place to store medications is in a high cabinet that has a childproof lock. Put medications back in the cabinet as soon as you’re done using them, even if you have to take another dose in a few hours. Leaving medicine out, even for a little while, can be a real danger.
If your medications didn’t come in child-resistant containers, secure them in childproof containers (then, in your childproof cabinet). Double-check that lids are properly closed on medicine and pill bottles, and that no medicine containers can easily be opened.
If you have medicine leftover after you get healthy, especially prescription drugs, it’s a good idea to throw them away or dispose of them. Check with your pharmacy, local health department or police department to see if they offer prescription medicine disposal services.
The kitchen is an enticing room in the house for children to explore and it often houses medications and vitamins. Want to make sure your kitchen is childproof? Read this guide to keeping your little ones safe in the kitchen.
Teach children and guests the rules
When you invite guests into your home, be it for a day or a few days, explain to them that you’d like to keep any medications stored securely during their visits. Kids are likely to rifle through purses, jacket pockets, duffle bags, and suitcases, which could pose a threat if they find any medications.
Also teach your children about medications. Let them know that they should never take any medicines unless given by mom or dad. It’s a good idea to show children medications, and explain that medicines aren’t food. Never tell a child medicine is candy in order to get him or her to take it.
As a precaution, post the number for poison control (1-800-222-1222) somewhere handy in case you ever need it.
Take care when giving kids medicine
Not only do medicines pose a threat to your children when taken unattended, but a mistaken dose given by a parent can be just as hazardous. Make sure you read all package and label information, and follow dosing directions carefully.
This is especially important when giving medication to infants and toddlers. Half of mistaken medicine dosing accidents that lead to emergency room visits occur when too much cold or cough medicine is given to infants and toddlers.
If your child’s medicine comes in liquid form, use the provided measuring device. Don’t rely on a kitchen utensil or measuring spoon to provide a precise dose. Ask the pharmacist for a measuring device if one isn’t included with your prescription.
Also beware using two different medications that have the same active ingredients. Double-check the instructions, dosing amounts, and contents to be sure. If you have any questions about giving your child medications, call your doctor or pharmacist to consult.
Another good rule of thumb is to try not give your kids medicine unless they really need it. The less medicine you give, the lower your chances of giving the wrong dose.
As noted before, don’t ever entice your child to take medication by telling him or her that it’s candy, a special treat, or dessert. This could lead to your child seeking out the medicine when you’re not looking.
Looking for more ways to keep your kids safe? Read the five most effective ways to protect your kids, even when you’re not there.