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Keep medication out of kids’ reach

Photo: Shocky

Think safety over convenience when storing medicine

For parents and grandparents, the thought of storing prescription and over-the-counter medicines away from children is second nature. But every day, 142 children under the age of 6 are seen in emergency departments after getting into medicine. That’s one child every 10 minutes. If parents know to keep medications out of reach, why are there still so many accidental poisonings?

A study by Safe Kids Worldwide shows that there is often a disconnect between where parents think it’s safe to “store” medicine versus where they “keep” it. For example, parents or guardians know to keep potentially harmful medicines safely stowed in the medicine cabinet, out of sight and reach of young children. But what about the bottle of pain reliever on the nightstand, or the vitamins on the kitchen counter? Parents often keep frequently used medications accessible, but don’t consider those locations when they think about child-proofing. This oversight creates opportunities for children to get into medicines that can lead to accidental poisonings.

When it comes to child-proofing their home, parents take precautions based on the current abilities of their child, but don’t consider what their child might do in the future. A child can go from crawling to pulling themselves up in a matter of weeks, so a purse on the couch or the diaper bag on the table becomes accessible before parents realize it. 

It’s easy for busy parents to opt for convenience. But when they underestimate their child’s abilities and lose track of all the places where they keep medicine, their child is at greater risk of getting into medicine. It’s never too early to establish life-saving habits: keep all medications out of sight and out of reach before your baby is on the move.

Sherri Hannan is a registered nurse at Kentucky Children’s Hospital and the coordinator for Safe Kids Fayette County.

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