It may surprise you that every eight minutes, a child goes to an emergency room for medicine poisoning and the majority of the time, it's because a child got into a grandparent's or parent's medicine.
This is National Poison Prevention Week, an important time to remind families to talk about how to keep medicine out of the reach of kids. And when you're having that conversation, remember to include all family members, including grandparents.
For generations, grandparents have played a significant role in raising their grandchildren, a trend that continues to grow. Since 2005, there has been a 23 percent increase in the number of grandparents living with their grandchildren and 13 percent of grandparents provide care for a grandchild on a regular basis.
Kids benefit in so many ways from spending time with their grandparents, but it also means they are around a greater amount of adult medicine. In our survey of more than 1,100 grandparents who regularly supervise young grandchildren, three out of four said they take a prescription medicine every day. And older adults who represent 13% of the U.S. population take 34% of prescription medication. Medicine safety for families is more important than ever.
Almost every grandparent and parent knows to keep medicine up and away from kids, but it's the exceptions that are leading to the dangerous situations. All it takes is that one time when we leave our medicine on a nightstand, in a purse on the floor or on the kitchen counter in a pill box without a child resistant cap to put a curious child at risk. And it's what drives nearly half a million calls to Poison Control Centers each year.
The good news is that medicine poisoning is preventable. Here are three practical tips to talk about with your family during National Poison Prevention Week and beyond:
- Keep all medicine up and away when young children are around. Even if you are tempted to keep it handy in between doses, put medicine out of reach after every use.
- Choose child-resistant caps for medicine bottles and remember, child-resistant doesn't mean child-proof. If pill boxes or non-child resistant caps are the only option, it's even more important to store containers up high and out of sight when caring for kids.
- Program the nationwide Poison Help Number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones. It's a free service and most of the time, your child can be treated at home under the guidance of the experts who answer the 24-hour hotline, with no trip to the emergency department and at no expense to the family.
Visit safekids.org for more tips on safe storage, safe dosing and safe disposal of medicine. And please share this information with your family and friends.