What’s lurking in your medicine cabinet?

Remember, this week is National Poison Prevention Week. There’s a theme for each day and today’s is accidental poisonings. The data is pretty scary—the number of accidental medication poisonings has doubled over the past 30 years or so, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The good news is that the number of deaths has dropped by 50 percent over the same time period. In the U.S. 165 kids end up in the emergency room every day because of these poisonings which, by the way, aren’t limited to medication—kids can get extremely sick from OD-ing on vitamins. Safe Kids has some excellent tips.

  • Store medications in an out-of-reach locked shelf or drawer. Yes, it’s easier to store meds on the counter where you can see them, but the convenience is not worth the risk — even if the meds have child-resistant caps. Instead, write yourself a note or set a daily alarm on your cell phone so you remember to take your pills.
  • Never call medications candy. If you’ve ever tried to get a child to take medicine he needs but really, really doesn’t want to take, you understand how tempting it is to say, “it’s candy.” Big mistake. What happens later when the child gets craving for sweets? “Hmm. There’s that bottle of candy in the bathroom….”
  • Don’t take your meds in front of the kids. Our kids, especially when they’re young, want to do everything we do: talk on the phone, sweep, drive. Why should taking pills be any different? If daddy or mommy does it, it must be okay.
  • Educate the grandparents. According to Safe Kids, 20 percent of all accidental child poisonings involve a grandparent’s medication, so it’s critical that they take some precautions, too. Make sure to store Grandma’s purse on a high shelf when she comes for a visit, or ask Grandpa to take his pillbox out of his pocket and leave it in the car (you’ll want to do the same thing for any other guests who visit your home). If you’re visiting the grandparents, politely ask that they store their medications in a safe place while you’re there, and to request child-resistant caps if they are able to handle them. Don’t worry about offending them — it’s your child’s health at stake.

Hopefully, you’ll never need this, but just in case: Poison Prevention Information — www.poisonhelp.hrsa.gov — (800) 222-1222

Whatcha think?