Many Young Children Overdosing from Medicines at Home

Many Young Children Overdosing from Medicines at Home

December 13, 2011

(CDC news release) -- Each year, one of every 150 two-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. 

To inform parents and caregivers about safe medication storage and what to do in case of an emergency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Education Foundation and a coalition of partners are launching an educational program, Up and Away and Out of Sight, encouraging parents to follow a few simple steps to protect children.

“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,” Dan Budnitz, director of CDC’s Medication Safety Program said in a news release. “A few simple steps – done every time – can protect our children.”

To protect children, parents and caregivers can:

* Pick a place children cannot reach.  Find a storage place too high for a child to reach or see.  Any medicine or vitamin can cause harm if taken the wrong way, even medicine you buy without a prescription.

* Put medicines and vitamins away every time you use them.  Never leave medicines or vitamins out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you have to give the medicine again in a few hours.

* Hear the click.  Make sure the safety cap is locked. If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until the click is heard.

* Teach children about medicine safety. Never tell children that medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if the child does not like to take his or her medicine.

* Tell guests about medicine safety. Ask houseguests and visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight when they are visiting.

* Be prepared in case of emergency. Program the poison control number into home and cell phones.

“Even with improvements to packaging, no medication package can be 100 percent childproof,” warns Richard Dart, M.D., president of the American Association of Poison Control CentersExternal Web Site Icon. “Poison centers receive calls every day about young children getting into medicines without adult supervision; that’s why we encourage all parents and caregivers to follow these simple steps to ensure their child’s safety.”

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