Safe Kids Worldwide just released a new research report identifying new insights into why kids are getting into medicine nearly 500,000 times per year. Every minute of every day, a poison control center receives a call about a potential medicine poisoning for a child age five and under. And 64,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. In three out of four (77 percent) of those visits, a child got into medicine belonging to a parent or grandparent. A surprising 38 percent of the time, a child got into a grandparent’s medicine.
In its report entitled Keeping Families Safe Around Medicine, Safe Kids examined data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and information from Poison Control Centers. In addition, to understand grandparents’ behavior when it comes to medicine safety, Safe Kids conducted research among more than 1,000 grandparents who regularly supervise young grandchildren.
The makeup of a “typical” household has changed significantly in recent years. Since 2005, there has been a 23 percent increase in the number of grandparents living with their grandchildren. And 13 percent of grandparents provide care for a grandchild on a regular basis. While older adults only make up 13 percent of the population, they account for 34 percent of all prescription medicine use. In the Safe Kids survey, 74 percent of grandparents who regularly care for a grandchild reported taking a prescription medicine every day. This new dynamic of children being around more adult medicine in the home makes medicine safety a more important topic than ever for families.
Every parent and grandparent knows to keep medicine up and away from kids. But it’s the exceptions, that one time when you leave your medicine in reach of a child, that lead to these alarming situations. And it happens every minute of every day, resulting in nearly half a million calls to Poison Control Centers every year.
Safe Kids Greater Dayton and Dayton Children's offer these tips for families to keep kids safe from medication poisoning:
- Keep all medicine up and away when young children are around, even medicine you take every day.
- Be alert to potential hazards of medicine stored in other locations, like pills in purses, vitamins on counters, and medicine on nightstands.
- Even if you are tempted to keep it handy in between doses, put medicine out of reach after every use.
- Choose child-resistant caps for medicine bottles, if you’re able to. If pill boxes or non-child resistant caps are the only option, it’s even more important to store these containers up high and out of sight when caring for kids.
- Take the time to read and follow the label before taking or giving medicine.
- Program the nationwide Poison Help Number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.