Over 59,000 children visit an emergency room for medicine poisoning or overdoses every year, that’s one child every nine minutes. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 1980 1.4 billion prescriptions were filled. In 2014 this number had almost quadrupled to four billion! Sales for over-the-counter medications went from $5.5 billion in 1980 to an astounding $30.8 billion in 2014. As these numbers explode this means that our children are increasingly exposed to prescription drugs and equally dangerous over-the-counter medications. Even something like rash cream, eye drops or vitamins can cause serious reactions in children. It is imperative that we keep anything that poses a danger out of reach of babies, children, adolescents, young adults and even adults.
Almost 95% of ER visits were from children five and under who got into medications when their parents/caregivers were not looking. For that reason all medications should be closely monitored and stored with extreme care.
Small boxes with built-in combination locks are available for purchase at many large stores and on-line. Even though they cannot solve the problem of accidental overdose or accidental poisonings, they may act as a first line of defense.
Here are some of the ways families can also safeguard their homes against accidental poisonings, overdoses and medication mishaps:
• Put all medicine and vitamins out of sight and out of reach of children of all ages
• Close medicine caps tightly after every use and choose child-resistant caps for medicine bottles when you can. Remember that child resistant doesn’t always mean child proof
• Be alert to visitor’s medicines. Offer to put purses, bags and coats out of reach of children
• Remember to ask people where your child visits to also store their medications safely even if it seems socially awkward
• Put medications up and away after every use even if it is tempting to leave it out in preparation for the next dose
• Keep close track of when doses are given so they are not repeated prematurely
• Write detailed instructions to caregivers and babysitters and remind them to store the medications out of sight and out of reach
• Get rid of unused or expired medications; locally the Newport Police Department will take back medications 24/7.
This is not a complete list of how people can protect their homes but it is a great place to start. Beth adds, “The most important phone number any adult can have programmed into their phone is the National Poison Control number. Please take a moment to put it in YOUR phone today 1-800-222-1222.”