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Keeping Children Safe when Visitors Arrive – A message from family doctors

Categories: Medication Safety

Glen R. Stream, M.D., MBI, FAAFP

Glen R. Stream, M.D., MBI, FAAFP

Author – Glen R. Stream, M.D., MBI, FAAFP
President, American Academy of Family Physicians

With the holidays — and related family gatherings — quickly approaching, now is a perfect time to talk about keeping medications Up and Away and Out of Sight of children.

The CDC, with support from the American Academy of Family Physicians and other partner organizations, recently launched a program that aims to educate parents and other caregivers about the dangers of improperly storing medications in the home, protecting children from unintentional medication overdoses and what to do in the case of a medication-related emergency.

Many parents may not realize the dangers that medications and even vitamins may pose, but more than 60,000 young children in the U.S. end up in emergency rooms each year because they take these pills or liquids when an adult isn’t watching. Unfortunately, such incidents may occur during the holidays when grandparents and other relatives are in the home. 

Parents, please ask visitors to keep purses and bags that contain medication away from your children and out of sight. The same rule applies when your children are visiting a friend or relative’s home. That pill box Grandpa uses to organize his medications is probably not child-proof and should be kept up and away.

The recommendation to keep medications out of sight is just as important as keeping it up high because if children can see vitamins or medication, they likely will find a way to get at them. If you’re not sure what your child can get into, get down on his or her level and take a good look at what they can see and reach. While you’re at it, think about how your child sees the world. Toddlers, given a chance, will put just about anything in their mouths. Small children like to imitate older siblings and adults. If they see you or an older child taking medication, they might want to try it, too. 

Putting medications up and out of reach is a good first step. You also can be prepared by programming the Poison Help number — 800-222-1222 — into your phones.

Have a safe and healthy holiday.

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. January 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm ET  -   Smergewor

    I was just searching for this information for some time. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your website. I wonder what’s the Google’s issue that does not rank this type of informative sites closer to the top. Generally the top web sites are full of garbage.

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  2. December 30, 2011 at 5:56 am ET  -   Healthcare

    Madication should not be taken without consultant of doctor. Parent should guide the child while taking the medicine. In that way we can avoid danger.

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  3. December 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm ET  -   Michael E. Bailey

    The “Up and Away and Out of Sight” initiative is a great thing and is badly needed. Too many times, the parents or the relitives get so involved with the holiday season, they just forget about keeping medications out of reach of children. Or, parents think a child resistant cap on a medicine bottle means a child can’t get into it when they can if given enough time. This is a message that might also be given to group home operators who care for up to 6 persons with severe disabilities in the group homes with each person on multiple medications and some clients having a 3 or 4 year old’s abilities in a 30 or 40 year old’s body. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

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