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Do Your Kids Know Where You Keep Your Medications?

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but not when it comes to children and your medications. Every year, nearly 60,000 youngsters in the United States receive emergency treatment for accidental poisonings from medication.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 95 percent of these incidents involve youngsters swallowing something they watched an adult take. (Dosing errors are responsible for the other five percent.) Whether it’s prescription, over-the-counter or a dietary supplement, it’s important to keep all medications out of your child’s sight and reach.

Protect Your Children from Medication Poisonings:


Put medicines away after each use. These include those for your children like vitamins or even diaper ointment. It’s easy to leave medications out on nightstands and counters, particularly when they are used every day or taken with food. However, most child poisonings happen when medications are easy to see and easy to reach.

  • Keep medication in its original child-resistant container. Do not transfer pills to pill minders or other containers for convenience.
  • If you must take a medication in front of your children, have a conversation with them explaining that it is for you only. If appropriate, or if a child asks, you can discuss why you are taking the medication and/or what it is for. You should also talk to them about not taking medication they see, whether it’s in their house or somewhere else.
  • Never tell children that medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if they don’t like the medicine.


Safely dispose of unused medication. Follow these guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Dispose of medication packaging securely. Pill containers and wrappings tossed in bathroom or kitchen trash baskets may have enough drug residue left on them to cause symptoms if a child finds them and puts them in their mouth.
  • Tell other people who might be living with you, such as grandparents, and visitors to keep purses, bags or coats that have medicine in them put away and out of sight.
  • Be prepared in case of an emergency. Program the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) number into home and cell phones (1-800-222-1222). AAPCC assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription medication and more than half take two. Twenty percent are on five or more. Americans also take lots of over-the-counter medications for a variety of ailments and nearly half also take at least one supplement.

With so many medications accumulating in households, pocketbooks and glove compartments, it’s crucial that parents and other adults in the home are vigilant about where they all are. It’s also important to understand that “child resistant” does not mean “child proof”. Children are inquisitive and enterprising. Just like that one electrical outlet you neglected to cover, if any medication is accessible, they’ll find it. Keep your children safe by keeping all medications stored safely.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

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