Grandparents: Protect Your Grandchildren From Accidental Medication Overdoses
Grandparents know children are curious and do everything possible to keep them safe as they explore. Grandparents love when their grandchildren come to visit, but they do not always remember to take extra precautions to put their medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight before their grandkids arrive. In fact, in a recent survey from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, nearly one out of every four grandparents said they store prescription medicines in easy-access places, including daily-dose boxes that children can easily open, and 18 percent said they store over-the-counter medicines in easily accessible spots.
Annually, more than 60,000 young children — or roughly four school busloads of children per day — age five or younger are treated in emergency departments (ED) for accidental ingestion of household medicines, according to Dan Budnitz, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Medication Safety Program.
“Grandparents may not be aware that their next dose of medicine left out on the counter is a potential source of harm for their curious young grandchildren,” said Budnitz. “A few simple steps — followed every time — can keep their grandchildren safe from harm.”
In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) PROTECT Initiative, CDC and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) Educational Foundation created the Up and Away and Out of Sight educational program to help parents, grandparents and caregivers understand how to best store and safeguard the medicines they use so young children cannot access them.
The following tips and resources can help to make sure your grandchildren are always protected:
- Keep all medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight in a high cabinet or other place inaccessible to your grandchildren.
- Keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines or vitamins in them out of their reach and sight.
- Remember to never leave medicines or vitamins out on a table, countertop, or bedside table where your grandchildren could reach them — always make sure the caps are locked and put them away every time they are used.
- Set a daily reminder to take your medicines and vitamins on your refrigerator or a location you check on a daily basis, since they will be safely stored up and away and out of sight.
- Program the national Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, along with other emergency contact numbers into your home and cell phone, so they are available in case of an emergency.
“Spending time with grandchildren is so special, and no grandparent wants to unintentionally put young children in harm’s way by leaving medicines and vitamins out. When grandchildren come to visit, it is important to be vigilant about making sure all medicines and vitamins are safely stored in ‘up-and-away’ places, rather than places kids can easily reach or rummage through,” said Emily Skor, vice president of Communications and Alliance Development at CHPA.
Safe medicine and vitamin storage should be practiced year round at home and away from home. Grandparents often take a variety of medications. They must be cautious about safe medicine storage when their grandchildren stay with them. Returning medicines and vitamins to a safe location every time they are used can help prevent the accidental ingestions and ED visits by young children each year.
For more information and resources, visit www.UpandAway.org and pledge to keep your medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight in your home.
Each year, one in every 150 2-year-olds is brought to an emergency department for accidental drug overdose, typically after finding and taking medications without adult supervision.
Explaining Medicine Safety to Children
Families take medicines and vitamins to feel well or stay well. However, any kind of medicine or vitamin can cause harm if taken in the wrong way or by the wrong person, even medicine bought without a prescription. It is important for parents, grandparents and caregivers to teach children about medicine safety to avoid accidental ingestions.
- Talk to children about what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them.
- Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.