Six tips to help prevent the leading cause of child poisoning
It can happen in an instant: a toddler grabs a prescription pill out of your purse; a child chugs tasty mouthwash when you’re not looking; a kid chews through a bottle of gummy vitamins. These scenarios and many more can result in child medication poisoning.
According to the nonprofit group Safe Kids Worldwide, medicines are the leading cause of child poisoning: In 2017 alone, nearly 52,000 children under the age of 6—about one child every 10 minutes—were seen in U.S. emergency rooms for medication poisoning.
To help combat these preventable crises, the organization is sharing six small tips that can make a big difference for your child’s safety:
- Keep medicine up and away, out of reach and sight of children, even medicine you take every day. Kids are naturally curious and can easily get into things like medicine if they are kept in places within their reach. Put medicines and vitamins at or above counter height where kids can’t reach or see them.
- Consider places where kids get into medicine. Children often find medicine kept in purses or on counters and nightstands. Place bags and briefcases on high shelves or hang them on hooks, out of children’s reach and sight.
- Remember products you might not think about as medicine. Health products such as vitamins, diaper rash creams, and even eye drops can be harmful if kids get into them. Store these items out of reach and sight of children, just as you would over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
- Give medicine safely to children. Use only the dosing device that comes with liquid medicine, not a kitchen spoon. When other caregivers are giving your child medicine, write clear instructions about what medicine to give, how much to give and when to give it. Using a medicine schedule can help with communication between caregivers.
- Save the National Poison Control Center number in your phone and post it visibly at home: (800) 222-1222. Specialists provide free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day. They can answer questions about how to give or take medicine and help with poison emergencies.
- Share medicine safety information with family and friends. Teach other caregivers such as family members, babysitters, and friends about medicine safety and make sure they know the National Poison Control Center number.
Remember: Pharmacists are your partners in medication safety. If you have questions or concerns, they are trained and ready to help. For more information on California’s licensed pharmacists and the services they provide, visit Department of Consumer Affairs’ California State Board of Pharmacy at www.pharmacy.ca.gov; to check a pharmacist’s license, visit search.dca.ca.gov.