I remember in first grade, this poison control expert came to visit our classroom. She gave each of us a kit full of green Mr. Yuk stickers, along with pamphlets and educational materials to share with our parents about keeping children safe from poisons and accidental medication overdoses. As a seven-year-old, I was ALL over this. Safety became my mission and I decided it was my duty to protect my little sister from the poisons of the world. I stuck those stickers on every mysterious bottled item in our house, lecturing my mom on safety and hidden hazards. Then back when I was teaching third grade, the CDC came up with the (now very well-known and oft-repeated) slogan: “Up and Away and out of Sight.” I educated parents on the proper protocol, encouraging them to keep their pill bottles out of children's reach.
Then I had children of my own, and I don't know what the heck happened. Maybe it's lack of sleep. Maybe it's the overwhelming amount of medication that myself and my babies and my DOGS all seem to be on all at the same time. I got lazy. I stopped thinking about it and I let some pill bottles accumulate on the counter. They served as a reminder for me to take them, and I didn't think there was any way that Some Boy could reach that far up.
Turns out, he can reach that far up. He can reach that far up and pry the bottle off some old prenatal vitamins (so much for childproof lids) while I'm around the corner changing Sidekick for all of sixty seconds. That's all it takes, and suddenly I'm finding my two-year-old with a mouth stuffed full of big green capsules, just itching to swallow and choke and suffocate and DIE. I don't mean to be dramatic, but this is exactly what flashes through the mind of a panicked mother in these situations. I bolted to his side and gently explained that he needed to open his mouth, and then gave him a big thwack on the back. Those oversized green pills scattered across the table in front of him, followed by a welcome wailing and screeching and sobbing because – terrible mom that I am – I took away his treat.
You can guess where all those pill bottles are now, right? Up and away and out of sight. In a cabinet with a child-proof lock because, let's face it, this kid is an acrobat.
Up and Away and Out of Sight: Facts on Medication Safety
I naturally beat myself up over the experience. How could I be so stupid? And I found – more scary than comforting – I'm not alone at all. Half a million parents call poison control every year because of medicine mismanagement. 67,000 kids are treated in the ER annually for medical poisoning. So statistically, I know that one of my readers is bound to need a gentle reminder: put your medicines up and away and out of sight. I know it can be tempting to have them at arm's reach for your convenience but trust me, this is one risk that's really not worth taking.
In addition to keeping medicines up and away and out of sight, follow these medication safety tips to help minimize the risk of poisoning in your home:
- Consider products you might not think of as medicine. Eye drops, vitamins, supplements…these are all dangerous to children.
- Remind relatives and visitors to keep their medicine in a safe place. In 43% of medicine poisoning cases, the child got into a relative's medicine.
- Read your child's medication labels and ask your doctor before giving your child more than one medication at a time, as using medications with the same or similar ingredients can put your child at risk for an overdose.
- Display the poison control number prominently on your refrigerator and save it in your phone: 888-222-1222.
Where do you store your family's medicine, and how do you keep the kids from getting into it?
I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Safe Kids Worldwide and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.