Monitor Your Medicine Cabinet: Keeping Your Kids Safe from Poisoning
There is a heartbreaking connection between the increase in adult prescription medication use and the incidence of child poisonings. A new study in the journal Pediatrics examines the increases in prescriptions for diabetes and hypertension medications, beta blockers and opioids and finds that they are significantly associated with exposures and poisonings in children of all ages.
The greatest risk group is among children 5 years old and younger, followed by children aged 13 to 19. The rates of emergency department visits were the highest for oral hypoglycemics and beta blockers, but serious injury and hospitalizations were most common with ingestions of opioids and hypoglycemics.
Keeping kids safe from medication poisoning
There are many safeguards you can put in place to make sure your children don’t get hold of your medications.
- Keep them out of reach. Store medicines in locked cabinets or containers far out of reach of children. Remember not to leave your medicines on bathroom or kitchen counters where little hands can find them.
- Watch your language. Don’t refer to any medicine as “candy,” or a “treat” or even suggest that it tastes like a treat.
- Lock them away. Child-proof your cabinets that are within your child’s reach with safety latches.
- Get the right caps. Make sure all of your medications are sealed with safety caps that are child-proof.
- Safely discard any unused medication. Most medicine can be disposed of in the household trash by following these steps:
- Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with kitty litter or used coffee grounds
- Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag
- Throw the plastic bag in your household trash
- Take your unused drugs to a community drug take-back day National Prescription Drug Take Back Days
“According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a few medicines should be flushed down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed in order to protect children, pets, or anyone else from accidently using them. For more information, review the FDA's "Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know."
- Teach medicine safety. When your child is old enough to understand, be sure to explain how medicine is not to be played with, and that only grown-ups can give medicine to children.
Seeking medical treatment
If your child does ingest medicine, he will need immediate treatment:
- If your child is unconscious, having seizures or not breathing, call 911 right away.
- If your child is still conscious, remove the medication, check to see if there is any still in his mouth and have him spit out any substance that remains. Do not give your child syrup of ipecac or make him throw up. Call the Poison Control Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 for help, unless you feel your child is seriously ill; if so, you should call 911 first or go to your nearest emergency room.
- If you have to go to the emergency room, bring with you the bottle of the medicine your child ingested.
Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: June 2013