Medicines play a vital role in treating diseases, relieving symptoms and extending lives, but they can cause serious harm to our kids if they are swallowed or if they are not given as directed on the label.
The equivalent of about four school busloads of kids arrive at emergency rooms in the US every day because a child accidentally got hold of medicine. That’s more than 59 000 kids each year, and almost every minute of every day a call is made to a poison-control centre because a child got hold of medicine.
What families can do to protect kids
Put all medicine up and away and out of sight. In 86% of emergency department visits for medicine poisoning, the child got hold of medicine belonging to a parent or grandparent.
Check all the places where kids can get hold of medicine. Kids get hold of medication in all sorts of places, such as purses and nightstands. Place purses and bags in high places and avoid leaving medicine on a nightstand or dresser. In two out of three emergency-room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine was left within reach of a child.
Remember to safely store all potentially harmful health products. Health products such as vitamins, diaper rash creams, eye drops and even hand sanitiser can be harmful if kids get hold of them. Store these items up, away and out of sight, just as you would traditional medicine.
Only use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. Kitchen spoons aren’t all the same, and a teaspoon or tablespoon used for cooking won’t measure the same amount of medicine as a dosing device.
Write clear instructions for caregivers about your child’s medicine. When other caregivers are giving your child medicine, they have to know what medicine to give, how much to give and when to give it. Using a medicine schedule can help with communication between caregivers.
Source: Safe Kids Worldwide