As a parent, it’s our job to make sure our children are protected from harm but sometimes accidents happen. According to the CDC, each year more than 64,000 children are admitted to the emergency room (ER) for medicine poisoning – that’s roughly one child every eight minutes! These numbers are staggering to us, but we see this as a great opportunity to stress to our parents the importance of educating themselves and their children on medicine safety. The Children’s Wellness Center providers are firm believers in the teaching kids at early ages lessons about medicine because we believe that this can significantly help ensure their safety and avoid unwanted trips to the ER. We’ve put together some of our top recommendations for teaching your children medicine safety:
- Start by teaching your children what medicine is – why we take it and what it does (there isn’t an exact age for beginning medicine safety with your children; it’s more based upon your child’s maturity level for this type of subject matter and when you feel they are old enough to really understand the importance).
- Explain to them that medicine should always be given by an adult – only suggest a parent, trusted family member, or their doctor have that authority.
- Never refer to medicine as candy in an attempt to make it more appealing! First this can teach kids to request medicine even when they aren’t sick just because they think it tastes good. It can also encourage them to try to take the medicine on their own, if they manage to access it without supervision.
- Lead by example. Our kids are quick to mimic the actions of adults so be mindful of practicing medicine safety: read all instructions that are on the labels, demonstrate using the proper measuring devices to avoid inadvertent child medical dosing errors, securely tighten safety caps on all medicines, and explain that you’re only taking what you need (and nothing more).
- Stress the importance of only taking medicine that is meant for them. Never share medicine with others (even their closest friends) and never take medicine from anyone else, especially if not meant for them.
For extra safety – here are a few medicine safety tips for parents:
- Keep all medicines securely stored out of sight and reach of your kids – perhaps in a designated medicine cabinet that can be locked (this is also a helpful safety reminder for the grandparents and caregivers).
- Be mindful of additional places you may store medicine and cleaning agents that can be accessed by children, such as a purse, inside travel luggage, on top of furniture, etc.
- Make sure medicine caps are properly screwed on and are child-resistant. If medicine is packaged in a box, ensure it’s out of reach as well.
- Be mindful of visitor’s medicine if you have guests staying in your house. Offer guests a secure location to store out of the reach of children.
- In the event of an emergency, add the Poison Help number 1-800-222-1222 into your phone to have handy if needed. This is especially helpful for after-hours child healthcare when a doctor’s office is closed.
- If you’re tempted to leave the medicine out for future use, try to get in the habit of putting it away until it’s absolutely necessary to take out again. We may have the best intentions of putting it away later, but sometimes we forget and kids can be quick at getting into things that are unsafe!
- Dispose of expired or unused medications properly. Disposing of them in the sink or toilet is an option – just make sure they aren’t just thrown in the trash and accessible to your kids, or even pets.
Medicine and vitamins can do wonders for all of us – when used correctly and in the safest of environments. By being open with your children and teaching them medicine safety at various ages, you’re helping to promote proper usage and instilling the best practices possible when your child is sick. Check back frequently for more pediatric safety tips and recommendations that we believe will keep your child happy and healthy. If you have suggestions for blog topics that you’d like to see covered, we’d love to hear from you so feel free to reach out to us by connecting with the CWC providers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.