Medication in the home can be extremely hazardous to children, but with a little common sense and some precautions, you can keep you child safe.
Starting when they are very young, talk to your children about the danger of taking medication that is not meant for them. Explain to your children that medicines are only to be taken when absolutely necessary, and that they should only take medicine if a trusted adult gives it to them. Continue to talk to you children as they get older. One in 7 teens admits to abusing prescription drugs to get high for the first time. Many teens falsely believe that prescription drugs are much safer than illegal drugs.
Here are some general safety guidelines to keep in mind:
- Do not rely on child-proof safety caps to keep your child from getting into your medications. Many children are clever enough to open these types of bottles – a determined child can chew their way in to anything eventually! With young children in the house, it is essential to keep all medicines in a locked cabinet out of reach of children’s hands.
- Beware of medications in disguise; some vitamin pills and herbal supplements can be just as dangerous to your child as medicines. It is possible to overdose on vitamin supplements. Make sure to treat all supplements as you would medicines, and keep them locked away from little hands.
- Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosages. Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access. Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
- As an extra precaution, keep the number of local poison control center handy. In the event your child accidentally ingests something, be sure to have the medication bottle with you, so that you can tell poison control the name of the medicine, the dosage and approximately how much was ingested. The national poison control number is 1-800-222-1222.
- Sort through your family’s medicines several times a year and dispose of unused or expired medications to prevent accidental ingestion and abuse. Remember that you shouldn’t flush medicines down the toilet or put them in the trash. This can be bad for the environment. In Wisconsin there is a free service called MedDrop. Bring your medicines in ziplock bags and drop them in the drop box. For more information on MedDropand locations around Madison, Fitchburg and Sun Prairie, visit their website.
Sumita Ram, MD
Meriter Deming Way