Author – Dan Budnitz, MD, MPH, CAPT, USPHS
Director, Medication Safety Program
CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
Today, CDC announced the launch of an exciting new education program for protecting children from unintentional medication overdoses – Up and Away and Out of Sight. We’ve blogged about the large number of children who end up in emergency rooms each year from unintentional ingestions and overdoses after taking medicine without adult supervision. Our data suggest that many children get into medicine because adults forget to follow simple steps: close the child-resistant packaging and put medicine up and away—out of children’s sight and reach.
In the 1970s, the introduction of child-resistant packaging and memorable awareness campaigns, substantially decreased the number of accidental poisonings. Medicines now outnumber household products as the leading cause of children’s poison-related emergency room visits. It is time for a “refreshed” campaign designed for busy parents of the 21st Century.
The new Up and Away and Out of Sight awareness program directs parents to follow simple steps:
- Store medicines in a safe location that is too high for young children to reach or see.
- Never leave medicine or vitamins out on a counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you have to give the medicine again in a few hours.
- Always relock the safety cap on a medicine bottle. If it has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click.
- Tell children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them.
- Never tell children medicine is candy so they’ll take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.
- Remind babysitters, houseguests, and visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.
- Program the poison control center number 1-800-222-1222 into your home and cell phones so you will have it when you need it.
This week, our medication safety partners will be blogging, including the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (who regulates child-resistant packaging), American Association of Poison Control Centers, organizations that represent the manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines, and family practitioners. Also, CDC will host a live Twitter chat with national medication safety experts on Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 1-2 p.m. Eastern Time to answer questions about the Up and Away and Out of Sight program and other medicine safety issues. Follow CDC’s updates on Twitter and join the chat by using the hashtag #MedsUpAway.
In the meantime, we’d like to hear your thoughts.