About every eight minutes, a young child ends up in the emergency room due to medicine poisoning. An alarming 77 percent of the time, the child took medicine that belonged to a parent or grandparent. A new report released by the global non-profit Safe Kids Worldwide shows that every minute of every day, someone places a call to a poison control center about potential medicine poisoning involving a child under the age of five.
With an increasing number of Americans taking prescription and over-the-counter medication, and more children living with grandparents, medicine safety should be a top priority in the home.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers the following tips for medicine safety in the home:
1. Don’t think that a child resistant cap is enough. Children can figure out how to open bottles.
2. Put a childproof lock or catch on the cabinet with your medicines.
3. Put away medicine safely after every use.
4. Never leave medicine on the counter. Curious children will climb on a chair to reach for something that interests them.
5. Don’t leave your medicine unattended. Children can find medicine in your bedside drawer, your handbag, or your jacket pocket.
6. Remind visitors (such as grandparents, babysitters, and friends) to put away their medicine. Ask them to keep purses or bags containing medicine on a high shelf, out of reach.
7. Get rid of any old or expired medicines.
8. Do not take your medicine in front of young children. Children like to copy you and may try to take your medicine just like you.
9. Do not call medicine or vitamins candy. Children like candy and will get into medicine if they think it is candy.
If you suspect your child has taken medicine, call your local poison control center. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has established a Poison Help Number: 1-800-222-1222 that will connect you to your local poison center. Keep it programmed into your phone. The Poison Help Line is staffed with trained poison experts; it’s free; it’s confidential; help is available day and night, 365 days a year; and translation services are available in 161 languages.
If someone is unconscious or having trouble breathing, call 9-1-1 immediately.
The third week of March is National Poison Prevention Week — please share!
Photo: Tom Perkins, photographer | Hemera collection | Thinkstock