Keep Kids Safe from Medication Poisoning

Keep Kids Safe from Medication Poisoning

In every household, there are lots of things that catch the eye of curious kids. Brightly colored pills and can be very tempting. When young children accidentally take prescription or over-the-counter medicines, it can trigger a health emergency.

If you live in a multigenerational house or visit grandparents often, the risks can be even greater. Nearly one-third of accidental childhood drug poisonings involve grandparents’ medication.

A study  by the American Academy of Pediatrics   estimates that nearly 9,500 children ages five and younger are hospitalized each year when they accidentally take prescription medicine. Seventy-five percent of these cases involve one- or two-year-old children.

Why does this happen so often? Experts at Safe Kids Worldwide   note, “One- and two-year-olds are explorers. It’s part of the natural development of children this age to walk alone, stand on tiptoe, climb up on furniture without an adult, and turn over containers to pour out the contents — behaviors that can put a child at risk if medicine is left within sight on a low counter, nightstand or in a purse.”

Research shows half of all over-the-counter poisoning cases happen because a child climbed on a toy, chair or other object to reach medicine.

Even more sobering, Safe Kids Worldwide reveals “accidental medicine poisoning sends a child under six to the emergency room every nine minutes. And every 12 days, a child dies.”

Check out this infographic from Safe Kids Worldwide to learn more. 

Safe Kids World Med infographic

Keep Kids Safe from Meds

Don’t rely solely on child-resistant caps to keep safe. The best way to prevent accidental poisoning is to keep medicine bottles where children can’t get them.

Follow these safety tips:

  • Put medications away right after you take them.
  • Whether at home or visiting, ask friends and family members to stow meds in locations little ones can’t reach, such as the top shelf of a cabinet.
  • Remember products you might not think of as medicine. Diaper rash creams, vitamins and eye drops also need to be stored safely.
  • Remind grandparents to keep track of their medications.
  • Save the toll-free Poison Help   line number on your home and cell phones:
    1-800-222-1222. Put the number on your refrigerator or another place where babysitters and other caregivers can see it.

How do you protect your kids from poisons in your home?

Sources: Emergency Hospitalizations for Unsupervised Prescription Medication Ingestions by Young Children,   National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 2014; Every 12 Days a Young Child Dies of Medicine Poisoning,   Safe Kids Worldwide, 2018; What to Know About Storing Medicine,   Safe Kids Worldwide, 2018; Poison Help,   Health Resources & Services Administration, 2021.

Originally published 3/3/2016; Revised 2021