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Keeping Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight of Toddlers

Categories: Medication Safety

Up And Away Campaign

Up And Away Campaign

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.

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. July 20, 2012 at 9:39 am ET  -   Sam Apex

    As far as pediatrics goes, children should never be given medicine that can halm them, parents needs to ensure that all medicine is kept as far away from their children as possible, unless it becomes necessary to give medicine to their children

    Sam Apex

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  2. December 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm ET  -   VNSNY

    Please be extra cautious of medications during the holidays. Extended families may not be as aware of keeping medicine out of the reach of small children as Visiting Nurse Service of New York nurse and blogger Sandra McTernan wrote in her blog post. Read what happened and her cautions at http://bit.ly/uPvcC6.

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  3. December 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm ET  -   steven marcus

    I am very pleased to see CDC efforts, however, the direction taken is not entirely correct. the FDA has adopted their slogan “lock it up.” that makes much more sense then just keep it up and out of sight. A large proportion of ingestions by children require the child to climb to reach the substance, we see that each and every day. It is far better to lock up all medicine and cleaning supplies. As in the FDA approach, there are more deaths from unintentional OD of prescription mediciations then other cause of death. Some of that medication is obtained as the result of “pharming” one person going into someone’s home and raiding the medicine cabinet. if that cabinet is locked or the meds are kept in a medication safe, that would not occur.
    Yes, keep it out of sight, but don’t forget lock it up!

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