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Reporting a Medication Error

Preparing for This Respiratory Virus Season: Keep Young Children Safe From Harm

Published February 9, 2024

Respiratory virus season brings an increase in colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses. Many of us will have additional medicines, vitamins, and supplements on hand to treat the stuffy noses and coughs. Taking care of the house and a sick child can be overwhelming. As you’re busy checking temperatures, wiping noses, managing medicines, and trying to keep up with daily activities, remember that young children are curious and often want to do what their parents or older siblings are doing.

Avoid a trip to the emergency room! Keep all medicines, vitamins, and other supplements (including gummies) up and away, out of sight and reach of young children. Each year, approximately 35,000 young children are brought to the emergency room because they got into medicines that were left within reach.

During respiratory virus season and always, keep all medicines out of sight and reach of young children. Never leave medicines 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. Here are four important medicine safety tips to help you navigate respiratory virus season:

1. Keep all medicines up and away. Whether you’re at home or visiting with family, put medicines, vitamins, and other supplements (including gummies) up and away in a place young children can’t see or reach. For example, you can put them in a high cabinet or on a high closet shelf.

2. Never leave loose tablets or other medicines out on a counter, table, or child’s bedside. Make sure to keep medicines in child-resistant containers until right before they are taken. To a young child, tablets or capsules can look like candy, and liquid medicines can look like sugary drinks. So, it’s important to keep them out of children’s reach and sight.

3. Practice safe medicine dosing. Always follow the dosing instructions on the package. Be sure to use only the dosing devices (e.g., oral syringes or dosing cups) that come with your liquid medicines. Ask your pharmacist if you don’t have one.

4. Save the Poison Help number in your phone (1-800-222-1222). Make sure that babysitters, older children, grandparents, and frequent family visitors have this information too, in case there’s an emergency when they’re in charge. If you think a child might have swallowed a medicine, vitamin, or other supplement, get help right away — even if you’re not sure. You can also visit www.poisonhelp.org.

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