CHILDREN ingesting parents' medication and household chemicals like bleach make up a large part of the admissions to local hospitals, and it's a worrying trend that has persisted despite numerous public education messages over the years.
In the case of household chemicals, the problem has persisted despite parents being urged not to store chemicals in containers that look like food or drink products, with parents being under the impression that if they tell their children that something is not safe, or that they will be severely punished, they will not touch the offending items.
But kids will be kids — and this means that it's in their nature to explore, and parents need to know how to ensure that they do so safely.
Here are some tips form Safe Kids Worldwide for parents about keeping kids safe around medicine.
Where medicine is stored vs where medicine is kept
Most families know to store medicine out of reach of children, but many parents are surprised to discover they need to think about medicine safety in new or different ways. Most families have a safe place in the home where they store medicine they don't use every day, but they may keep often-used medicine handy and not be thinking about the safety factor. Kids are getting into medicine in purses, in nightstands, on counters, in drawers — places kids are drawn to explore.
Child-resistant vs child-proof
While a child-resistant medicine container can slow down a child working to open it, it is not child-proof. Families are often surprised by how quickly their little ones can get into a child-resistant container.
What you think your child can do vs what your child can do
Every parent knows that “oh!” moment when their child does something for the first time. It may be a proud moment, or it may be a frightening wake-up call. Stories about children getting into medicine often start with that moment of surprise, “I didn't know my child could reach up there!”
Candy vs medicine
To a little explorer, candy and medicine can look alike, so it is especially important to keep all medicines and vitamins out of children's reach and sight.
Simple steps to prevent kids from getting into medicine
1. Keep all medicine out of children's reach and sight, 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.
2. Choose child-resistant packaging whenever possible. If someone in your home is using pill boxes or other containers that are not child-resistant, it's even more important to store these out of children's reach and sight.
3. Use reminder tools to help keep track of medicine. Instead of keeping medicine on the counter or a nightstand, set a reminder in your phone or use a medicine schedule to remember when to give and take medicine.
4. Keep medicine safety on your child-proofing checklist. As your child learns new skills and becomes more mobile, anticipate that you may need to continue to assess and change where you keep medicine to avoid alarming surprises.