Many parents might not fully realize the dangers of leaving medications within reach of young children. According to a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every 150 two-year-olds in the U.S. visits an emergency room for unintentional medication overdose each year. This often happens after a child finds and eats or drinks medicine without adult supervision.
The CDC, Consumer Healthcare Products Association Education Foundation, and a coalition of partners have joined forces to launch Up and Away and Out of Sight, an educational program designed to encourage parents to safeguard their children with a few easy steps:
- Remember that any medicine or vitamin can be harmful to a child if taken the wrong way–even non-prescription medication.
- Find a place to store medicines where children cannot reach–even better, where they are out of sight, such as in high cabinets.
- Put medicines and vitamins away after giving them to your child. Do not leave them out on a kitchen counter or a sick child’s bedside, even if you will use them again in a few hours.
- Ask your pharmacist if an over-the-counter medication is available in individual doses. This will limit the amount of medication a child could discover.
- Make sure that the safety cap is locked when you put it on the medicine container. Listen for a click when you twist the cap that tells you it is locked.
- Never tell a child that medicine is candy, even if he or she does not like to take it. It is a good idea to inform your child about medicine safety.
- Ask guests to keep purses, bags, or coats that may have medicine in them “up and away and out of sight” from children while they are visiting.
- Program the poison control number (1-800-222-1222) into your phone so that it is handy in case of an emergency.
While most medicines have child resistant packaging these days, they are not properly effective if not stored correctly. “Even with improvements to packaging, no medication package can be 100 percent childproof,” warns Richard Dart, M.D., president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. “Poison centers receive calls every day about young children getting into the medicines without adult supervision; that’s why we encourage all parents and caregivers to follow these simple steps to ensure their child’s safety.”
The Up and Away and Out of Sight educational program is part of a larger project, the PROTECT Initiative, which aims at reducing unintentional medicine overdoses in children by developing innovative safety packaging that could limit the amount of medication a child might ingest if the safety cap is not securely replaced.
For more information about what CDC is doing to protect children from adverse drug events, visit www.cdc.gov/medicationsafety.