Half a million times every year, a child gets into medicine or is given the wrong dose. Every minute of every day, a poison control center gets a call about potential medicine poisoning involving a child five years old or younger. About every eight minutes — or 67,000 times a year — a young child is brought into an emergency room due to medicine poisoning. This represents a 30 percent increase over the past 10 years.
“Ask any parent, and they will tell you they store medicine where children can’t get them,” said Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “But they might not be thinking of pills stored in purses, vitamins left on counter tops or a diaper rash remedy near a changing table.”
Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, along with information from poison control centers and focus groups, shows that more medicines in the home are leading to increased exposure to children. Although a large number of adults use medicines and supplements regularly, they aren’t always keeping them away from young children.
You can keep children in your home safe by following a few simple tips:
- Keep medicines and supplements high and out of sight of young children.
- When securing harmful substances, include everyday items like rubbing alcohol, eye drops, and “gummy” vitamins.
- Put your medicines away after each use, no matter how often you need them.
- When you have guests, keep their purses, bags, and coats out of reach of children. (Forty-three percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning involved medicine belonging to a visiting relative.)
- When visiting others with your child, be alert to medicines and other dangerous substances within reach.
- When giving medicine to your child, use a measuring spoon to make sure you are using the correct dose. Never refer to medicine as “candy.”
- Program the national poison control center number into all your phones: 1-800-222-1222.
For more information on safe storage and disposal of medications and other harmful substances, visit SafeKids.org, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States.
Photo: PRNewsFoto/Safe Kids Worldwide