Whether they are bought over the counter or on prescription, we all have medications at home. Unfortunately that means our children are at risk from accidentally taking these.
You might think that your medications are out of reach, but it’s easier and a lot more common than you might think for children to get their hands on them; each year there are around 70,000 children taken to the emergency department as a result of unintentional medication overdoses.
Here we look at steps that you can take to keep your kids safe from medications at home.
Don’t be fooled
Although safety caps on medicine bottles and blister packs for tablets make it harder for children to access their contents, they do not guarantee that they will not get into them; it’s a lot easier for children to open these than we would be lead to believe.
Additionally never decant pills into another container, as these will provide easy access and they may simply be mistaken for something else.
Don’t let them see
When taking your medication, pills can accidentally get onto the floor – the perfect place for kids to spot them – so dispense your medications over a plate or tray to minimize the risk of this.
Toddlers often go through a phase of copying what you do; if they see you taking a tablet they will try to mimic that behavior too.
To avoid this problem try not to take your medication in front of your children and never call them your candy; children can mistake brightly colored pills for candies.
Some parents might try to coax their children if they have to take tablets by pretending that again they are candies; don’t be tempted to do this, as it can confuse your child and lead to unfortunate consequences.
Lock them away
You might think that putting your medications on the top shelf or in a cupboard at height will solve the problem of your children accessing them. While they may not be so easy to get to, children love to explore and climb.
All your kids need to do is use a chair or the kitchen work surface for instance to get to those hard to reach places. Equally don’t think that the pain killers in your handbag are tucked safely away; your kids won’t think twice about rummaging through your bag to see what goodies they might find.
The safest place for any medication is in a locked cabinet; though obviously keep the key out of sight from them as well. As soon as you have brought the drugs back from the pharmacy or have taken your medication, return them to the cabinet; it can only take a minute or two when your back is turned to your children to get hold of them.
If you use medications that need to be refrigerated, ensure you have a safety lock fitted to your fridge.
It is essential that unused medications are disposed of safely; they should never just be kept at the back of the cupboard, as the more medications you have in the house, the more potential for accidents to happen.
Equally medications should never be washed down the sink or flushed down the toilet, as they consequently enter our water supply. Check with your local pharmacy what the procedure is for the safe disposal of medications; they may be able to take them back from you.
If however there is no medication disposal scheme locally, there are ways to help ensure that the medication causes no harm when you dispose of it.
When away from home
If visiting friends and relatives, particularly if they don’t have kids of their own, they may not think about the potential danger that a bottle of pills might pose.
Speak with them before you arrive to remind them to keep their medications securely out of sight, then have a quick check when you get there to make sure there aren’t any medications on display.