Home Poison Control
Take a look at any medicine bottle in your cabinet or closet. Read the label. What do you see? If it’s a popular medication for cold and flu, you’d see yellow #10 and green #3. You’d also see high fructose corn syrup. If you’re looking at an antacid supplement you’d read yellow #5, and sucrose (a form of sugar). Look at any brand of children’s liquid pain reliever/fever reducer and you’d notice red # 40 and sucralose (a form of sucrose). When you read these ingredients together, what does it make you think of? If you said “candy”, you are correct.
Over-the-counter medications are not the only ones that look and taste like candy. Many prescription meds use coatings that contain dyes and sugars. And even if they don’t, their size and shape make them easily mistakable.
Every year, around 800,000 kids are rushed to the E.R. because of accidental poisoning. Of the most common poison exposures for children, pain medications, vitamins, antihistamines and cough and cold medications are in the top ten.
Hundreds of thousands of calls to poison control centers occur each year due to kids ingesting their parent’s medications – pills that are often removed from their childproof containers and carried around in a purse or dispenser.
About 90% of child poisonings occur in the home, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. To help keep children safe, follow these guidelines:
- Keep all meds up high, hidden in a closet or cabinet. Install locks or child-resistant latches wherever they are kept.
- Ask for child-resistant closures on all pill bottles. Make sure you hear the click when closing a child-resistant cap.
- Always keep medicine in its original container.
- Ensure that Grandparents keep their containers out of reach. If they have meds in their purse or bag, make sure to keep them out of reach as well.
- Never call medicine “candy” or take meds while being watched by young eyes.
The number of child poisonings has declined dramatically since the Poison Prevention Packaging Act passed in 1972. But as the Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated, we should think of child-resistant packaging as our last line of defense. It is up to us to ensure that our children stay safe.