“Don’t touch that.”
“Get down from there!”
“Do NOT put that in your mouth.”
Ah, life with kids is an adventure, isn’t it? No matter how closely you watch them, when you turn your back for a second, they’ll usually find a way to get into mischief.
All it takes is a moment …
A child is rushed to the hospital every ten minutes after getting into medicines.1 Parents just like you thought they had taken every step to keep medications out of their curious kids’ hands. But all it took was a moment.
You can’t bubble wrap your kids to keep them safe, but whether you have curious toddlers or experimenting teens, you can take steps to help ensure dangerous medications are not easily accessible:
- Aim high. Store all medicine out of children's reach such as in a high cabinet. If you keep any medication in your purse, be sure to keep that out of reach as well.
- Lock it up. Consider storing prescription medicines in a locked box or medicine cabinet.
- Dispose of medications. Your pharmacist or local police station can advise you on how to safely dispose of expired or unused medications.
- Think like a child. Take extra care with any medicine that could be confused as food or candy, including cannabis edibles, gummy vitamins, colorful pills, etc.
- Don’t forget about visitors. Stash visitors purses, bags and coats out of reach.
- Put it away. Remember that “child resistant” caps do not mean they are child proof.2 Tighten the caps and put medicine away immediately after each use.
We all know that “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t enough. To keep your kids safe, you need to talk to them – early and often. 3 We get it, it’s not easy to reason with a two-year-old with the climbing skills of a pint-sized Spiderman who just wants his Flintstones gummy vitamin. Do it anyway and keep talking to him about the dangers of misusing medications. Your kids should know that they are never to touch or taste any medication that has not been handed to them by you – including those Flintstones vitamins!
Teach them to be safe by practicing what you preach
Accidental ingestion isn’t the only danger when it comes to medications in the home. The products you choose and how you dispense them are vital in ensuring your children’s health and safety.
Just because a product is readily available over the counter (OTC), does not mean it is harmless. In fact, acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), one of the most common medicines parents provide to their children, is one of the most overdosed and can cause nausea, vomiting, liver failure and even death if not given correctly.4
Treat OTC medications, including vitamins and supplements, as carefully as you would a prescription:
- Give the age-appropriate medicine. Not all medicines are right for an infant and a child. Just because a formula is intended for an infant does not mean it is less potent than the children’s or even adult’s versions of the same medication. To allow for smaller does, the opposite may in fact be true.
- Check the ingredients. If you’re treating symptoms of an illness with multiple medicines (such as a fever reducer and cold medication), both could have the same active ingredient, leading to accidental overdosing.
- Read the label every time. Check how much to give and how often.
- Never use more than directed. Follow dosing instructions exactly.
- Use a dosing tool. Always use a measuring tool such as a dropper or a dosing cup.
- Tbsp. vs. tsp. A tablespoon (tbsp.) is three times more than a teaspoon (tsp.) Double check the dosing instructions to ensure you know whether to dispense a teaspoon or tablespoon. Kitchen spoons, while frequently referred to as “teaspoons” and “tablespoons,” may in fact hold incorrect amounts and should never be used to give medication.
- Know your child’s weight. Some medicine are based on weight. If a dose is not listed for your child’s age or weight, don’t guess – call your doctor or pharmacist.
- Check the medicine. Check the label to be sure you have the right medicine and check the expiration date to ensure it is still effective.
- Save the number. Save the Poison Control help number (1-800-222-1222) in your cell phone and keep it posted in your home.9 You may never need it – and we hope you never do – but you will be so glad you have it close it hand if you ever do. 5,6,7,8
We’re here to help
If you have any questions about the risks or benefits of any medications your children take or how to dispense them, talk to your local Health Mart pharmacist – they are happy to help!
Health Mart. Caring for you and about you.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
- CNN: “Some parents overlook dangers of medicines, sending thousands of children to ER” . https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/14/health/medicine-poisonings-in-children-report/index.html Last accessed: March 14, 2019
- CBS This Morning: “Kids can open child-resistant pill bottles in seconds, risk accidental poisoning” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/too-many-children-die-accidental-medicine-poisoning-safe-kids-worldwide-report/ Last accessed: March 14, 2019
- Nurse.com: “Report: Child-proof drug packaging does not halt accidental poisoning” https://www.nurse.com/blog/2018/03/30/report-says-child-proof-packaging-does-not-halt-accidental-poisoning/ Last accessed: March 14, 2019
- FDA: “Reducing Fever in Children: Safe Use of Acetaminophen” https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm263989.htm Last accessed: March 14, 2019.
- CDC: “Tips For Parents about the safe use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine” https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/TipsForParents/default.htm Last accessed: March 14, 2019.
- FDA: “Kids Aren't Just Small Adults -- Medicines, Children, and the Care Every Child Deserves” https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm312776.htm Last accessed: March 14, 2019
- FDA: “Ten Tips to Prevent an Accidental Overdose” https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm253338.htm Last accessed: March 14, 2019
- Consumer Reports: “Protect Kids From Accidental Drug Overdoses” https://www.consumerreports.org/drug-safety/protect-kids-from-accidental-drug-overdoses/ Last accessed: March 14, 2019
- Poison Control: “Poisoned? Two ways to get expert help.” https://www.poison.org/ Last accessed: March 14, 2019.
Posted on Mon, April 1, 2019
by Health Mart