(BPT) - Every year, approximately 60,000 young children visit the ER due to one – preventable – reason: they accidentally swallow medicine.
That’s why the Up and Away and Out of Sight program, an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partners, is reminding parents and caregivers this June – National Safety Month – about the dangers of leaving medicine within reach of children.
“Parents might not be aware of the danger posed by leaving medications where young children can reach them,” says Dr. Dan Budnitz, director of the Medication Safety Program at the CDC. “Each year, one of every 150 two-year-olds ends up in an emergency room for an unintentional medication overdose. A few simple steps – done every time – can help protect your children.”
Here are seven simple tips from the Up and Away program to keep your child safe from an unintentional medication overdose:
1. Store all medicine out of reach and sight of young children. Any medicine or vitamin can be dangerous if not taken as directed by the label. This includes over-the-counter medicine.
2. Put medicine up and away after each use. A common mistake is leaving medicine on a nightstand after caring for a sick child in the middle of the night. People also commonly leave medicine on the kitchen counter, especially medicine that needs to be taken with food.
3. Did you hear the click? Always relock the child-resistant safety cap on medicine bottles. If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click. But remember that safety caps are not 100 percent child-proof, so you still need to put medicines up and away and out of sight.
4. Medicine isn’t candy. It’s important to explain to your children what medicine is and why you or another caregiver must be the one to give it to them.
5. Spread the word. Remind family members, babysitters, and houseguests to keep purses, bags or coats with medicine in them up and away when they’re in your home.
6. Remember to store medicines safely when traveling. When packing for a summer trip, keep medicines in the original child-resistant containers whenever possible. Other containers such as pill organizers and travel pillboxes usually aren’t child-resistant.
7. Be prepared. Save the Poison Help number (800-222-1222) in your cell phone so you’ll have it in case of an emergency, and make sure it is available for your babysitter or other caregiver before leaving the house. Each poison center is staffed with doctors, pharmacists, toxicologists and other experts that can answer your questions 24/7.
It is also important for parents and caregivers to keep track of who gets medicine and when. Ideas include setting reminders on your refrigerator, cell phone, or medicine cabinet. Many families have multiple people in the home taking medicine, so it isn’t always easy to keep track.
For more information, visit www.upandaway.org.