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Prevent accidental poisonings: Keep medicines away from children

According to a new report released this week from Safe Kids Worldwide, every minute of every day, a poison control center receives a call about a potential medicine poisoning for a child age 5 and under. And 67,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. This is a 30 percent increase over the past ten years.

March 17 to March 23 is National Poison Prevention Week. In recognition of the week, Safe Kids has released a report titled An In-Depth Look at Keeping Young Children Safe Around Medicine. In this report, Safe Kids examines data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, information from poison control centers and findings from several focus groups, and reviews what is happening in Americans home that has led to these frightening numbers.

One reason for the increase in child poisonings is the increase of medicines in the home. Most Americans take vitamins or medicine on a regular basis. Eight out of ten adults took at least one medication or vitamin in the past week, and three out of ten adults took five or more.

But statistics show they don’t always keep them up and away from kids. In 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child ingested medicine belonging to an adult. According to the report, the top places children are finding medicine is on the ground (27 percent), in purses or bags (20 percent), or on a counter (20 percent).

What can you do to keep your children safe from accidental poisonings?

  • Even if you are tempted to keep it handy, put medicine out of reach after every use.
  • Look around your home for products you might not think about as harmful, like rubbing alcohol, eye drops or gummy vitamins, and store them out of the reach of children.
  • When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats where kids can’t get to them. (In 43 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a relative, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.)
  • Never store household and garden chemicals in food containers like cups or bottles.
  • Be alert to medicine in places your child visits. Take a look around to make sure there isn’t medicine within reach of your child.
  • Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.

It only takes a second for a curious kid to get in trouble and get their hands on something they shouldn’t. Take a look around your house and make sure all medicines or hazardous products are up out of the reach of any children.