Did you know approximately 60,000 young children visit the emergency room each year due to accidental ingestion of medicines1? That's 1 child every 8 minutes. Accidents like these should be prevented year-round, but National Poison Prevention Week (March 20 – 26, 2016) is a timely reminder to take a fresh look at your home through the eyes of your child, and to take some simple steps to make sure all medicines and vitamins are stored Up and Away and Out of Sight.
1. Store all medicines out of reach of children. Any medicine or vitamin can be dangerous if it's not taken as directed by the label—even over-the-counter medicines. Walk around your home and find the best place to store medicines up and away and out of sight of young children.
2. Put medicines up and away after each use. It's easy to leave medicines on the nightstand when caring for your child in the middle of the night, or on the kitchen counter when taking medicine with food. However, most accidents happen when the medicine is within reach. So, no matter the situation, always put medicines and vitamins away immediately after each use.
3. Did you hear the "click?" Always relock the safety cap on medicine bottles. If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the "click" or until you can't twist anymore. Remember, even though many medicines and vitamins have safety caps, children may be able to open them, so store all medicines up and away and out of sight.
4. Medicine isn't candy. It's important to explain to your children what medicine is and why you or another caregiver must be the one to give it to them. But never tell your children medicine is candy, even if your children don't like to take their medicine.
5. Don't forget about visitors in your home. Always remind guests to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them up and away when they're in your home. This includes everyday items like birth control pills, which to a child might seem like a new toy with lots of little pieces.
6. Set reminders to take your medicines and vitamins on your refrigerator, cell phone, or near your medicine cabinet. Many families have multiple people in the home taking medicines at the same time, and, as a caregiver, it isn't always easy to keep track. Setting reminders is an easy way to track each person's medicine use and dosages.
7. Save the Poison Help number (800-222-1222) in your cell phone so you'll have it in case of an emergency, and make sure it is available for your babysitter or other caregiver before leaving the house. Did you know that each poison center is staffed with doctors, pharmacists, toxicologists, and other experts that can answer your questions 24/7? Call Poison Help right away if you think your child might have gotten into a medicine or vitamin, even if you are not completely sure.
Lovegrove, Maribeth C., Mathew, Justin, Hampp, Christian, Governale, Laura, Wysowski, Diane K., Budnitz, Daniel S. (2014). Emergency Hospitalizations for Unsupervised Prescription Medication Ingestions by Young Children. Pediatrics, Volume 134, Number 4, e1009-16. doi: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/09/09/peds.2014-0840.