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Keep kids safe: Store your medicine

Cortney Bloomer
Carson City Health and Human Services

Recently, a friend told me about a scary incident involving her young child. In only a moment when he was out of sight, he was able to get hold of some medicine that had been left out. Not knowing how many of the pills he had swallowed, she rushed him to the emergency room. Luckily, he was fine, but the event left her shaken and unfortunately, this scenario plays out too often in homes across America. Even alert parents may find themselves scrambling for the number of a poison control center or emergency room after finding a child with a bottle of pills.

Each year, one of every 150 2-year-olds visits an emergency department in the United States for an unintentional medication overdose, most often after finding and eating or drinking medicines without adult supervision.

“Parents may not be aware of the danger posed by leaving medications where young children can reach them. In recent years, the number of accidental overdoses in young children has increased by 20 percent,” said Dr. Dan Budnitz, director of CDC’s Medication Safety Program. “A few simple steps – done every time – can protect our children.”

To keep children safe, parents and caregivers should store all medications, vitamins and supplements in a place children cannot reach or see, and should close bottles tightly and put them back in this storage place every time they’re used. Medicines should come in a child-proof container, so make sure the lid is properly sealed. Do not be tempted to leave medicines out on a counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you have to give the medicine again in a few hours.

Teach your children about medicine safety. Let them know how important it is to have an adult give medicine to children, so that the right dose is given. Never bribe children to take medicine by telling them it is candy. Many pills look like actual candy and this could be confusing – and dangerous – for a young child who finds a bottle of “candy” sitting within reach.

As a parent or caregiver, it is important to take steps to prevent children from having access to medicine, but accidents still happen. Be ready to respond by programming the number of the Poison Control Center into your home and cell phones. The toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222. Carson City Health and Human Services has “Mr. Yuck” stickers available with the number of the Poison

Control Center printed on them. These stickers can be put on medicines as well as other household items, like cleaning products, that children should stay away from. To get some Mr. Yuck stickers for use in your home, visit the Health Department during normal business hours.