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.