In 2011, 67,000 children, age four and under, were admitted to an emergency room in the U.S., an increase of 30% over the last ten years. Of these, 88% of the pharmaceuticals came from the floor (27%), a purse bag or wallet (20%), left out on dressers, night stands and tables (20%), pill boxes or bags of pills (15%), and from a cabinet or drawer (6%). The remaining 12% came from yet other sources. This includes prescription and non-prescription drugs, both of which are poisonous to little guys. The vast majority (86%) of these meds belonged to adults, with moms and grandparents being primary contributors.
It's just too easy to leave a pill bottle out on a counter or to drop a pill on the floor never to be seen again... until your toddler finds it. Grandparents, not surprisingly, leave their myriad pill bottles on a bathroom counter. It's far too easy for pills to wind up within easy reach of toddlers and others (tweens and teens can be looking to experiment with drugs too). This tells us that we must redouble our efforts to secure prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
The CDC has a new campaign to help prevent medication poisonings. It uses the catch phrase "up and away" to remind us to put our medications away and to store them high enough to prevent access by little guys. To follow this urging, here are a few helpful reminders:
- Secure both prescription and over-the-counter medications in a locked cabinet. This not only ensures that toddlers and grade school age kids will not be able to access them, but it also prevents tweens and teens from sampling them.
- It's also wise to store meds in a higher cabinet so that toddlers will not be able to access them. This is especially important when you are travelling as a family where there may not be a lockable container available.
- If you drop a pill, take the time to find it because if you don't, your toddler will. And, as you know, everything that a toddler picks up goes into his mouth.
- Don't leave purses or other containers where they can be reached by little people.
- Ask visitors to place their pills in a secure place while they are sharing your home.
- Ask grandparents to secure their meds when your son or daughter is visiting. They may not be excited about doing this, but it will protect their grandchildren.
- If you or another adult are worried about not taking a pill on time, then set the alarm on your cell phone or travel alarm.
Remember, small children are involved in medication poisonings resulting from pills left in easily accessible places. Lock up the meds and place them high above the floor. Get visitors and family members to do the same thing.