In 2015, 440,000 calls were made to the poison control center because children got into medication that they shouldn’t have. There are lots of measures that society has taken to ensure that children aren’t gaining access to medication. The most common one is the child proof covers. However, just because the pills are in a “secure” container doesn’t actually mean that they are safe. In fact, research states that in nearly 45-55% of the poison control cases involved child-resistant packaging. The child was able to figure their way into the container with a little extra effort.
The interesting concept here is that 9 out of 10 parents agree that storing medication out of children’s reach is important. Unfortunately, there is a little bit of a disconnect. Often times parents end up leaving the medication in a convenient location because they are watching their children. Seems pretty logical, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not.
In the emergency department, parents frequently said that they only turned their backs for a minute and their child was quick enough to get into their medications. We try our best to take care of our children, but we were all kids once, we know how easy it can be to be a little sneaky. Did you ever steal something from your mom’s purse when she wasn’t looking? I know I did…. let’s just say it was only once. (It was probably closer to once a week.) Just think of how many trips to the emergency department that could have been if I was stealing pills because I thought they looked like candy. Parents always do their best to be aware, but the reality is we cannot be aware 24/7. We are all human beings and that is okay. As long as we try our best.
So, what can we do to keep our medications safe and our children safer?
There a couple tips and tricks that we recommend you do to keep your children safe. Now, if you don’t have children you probably think that this blog is irrelevant to you. And maybe it is. However, if you have little family members, animals, friends with children, or maybe one day in the far future you might be ready to have your own (that’s where I am currently… minimum of 10 more years please). It might seem unrealistic that for the few hours your little niece or nephew is over that they’ll get into your medication, but it is very likely. In fact, 49% of the cases of children brought to the emergency department were because the child got into medication that belonged to an aunt, uncle, or grandparent.
Let’s Do Better For Our Kids
Children getting into medications, or even teens stealing medication for recreational use, is a problem that can be prevented. So, let’s do better and follow these tips and tricks.
- Keep your medications in the original container with the child resistant cover. I know I said they aren’t always child proof, but it is a small extra safety measure compared to a Ziploc bag.
- Always refer to it as medicine. When children are younger it can be easier to explain it as “mommy’s candy” or “daddy’s pick me up to feel better.” That may seem like a good idea, until they get a little older and want to feel like an adult. So, they go into mom’s purse to grab some “adult candy.”
- Make sure to finish the prescription and dispose of the bottle when the medication is gone. This is beneficial to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. But, also to ensure that you don’t have left over medication just sitting in cabinets that you forgot about. You may have forgotten about it, but it is likely that your children have not.
- Instead of keeping medications in your purse or on the counter to take after dinner, set an alarm. Use little reminders that aren’t just having the pill bottle sitting on the counter.
- Lock up your medications. Install a lock on your bathroom cabinet or medicine closet. Or, purchase a medication lock box. By keeping your medications in a locked container/closet it adds that extra layer of protection because your children would need to know the code and know where the key is located.
- Know the poison control center number. Add the number into your cellphone in case something happens to ensure that you act fast and can get the help you need ASAP.
Ask for Help
It can be hard realizing that you made a mistake or that you don’t know what to do. But, it is important to remember that you can always ask people for help! There are several tips and tricks to keep your medications away from your children. As always make sure they are out of reach and out of sight for your children. There are so many ways that children can get hurt, let’s do our best to protect them from something as simple as prescription medication.
As always, if you’re unsure where to store your medication or nervous that your child is stealing your medications feel free to reach out and I can help guide you in your response. Reach out via the comments, email, or any social media channel and I will be there every step of the way!
Center, P. (2018, August 29). 4 Tips for Keeping Prescriptions Safe from Kids. Retrieved May 23, 2019, [Learn More At Share.UPMC]
- (2017, March 14). Medication Infographic 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2019, [Learn More At SafeKids]
How and Where to Safely Store Medications at Home. (1970, January 01). Retrieved May 23, 2019, [Learn More At GetReliefResponsibly]