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Mind the meds

Safe medication storage tips to prepare for child visitors.

Article Author: Juliette Allen

Article Date:

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There are few things more treasured than family holiday traditions. But before you go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this year, there are important steps to take to make sure your festive fun doesn’t end with a trip to the Emergency Room.

“There’s often more travel during the holidays, which means different environments and situations for families with children,” said Jessica Winberry, prevention coordinator with Safe Kids Northeast Florida, which is led by THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “When there’s something new, it’s always exciting to explore! Kids are curious and like to put things in their mouths. This increases the chance of an accidental ingestion.”

Store medication safely

In the United States, a child is seen in the ER for medicine poisoning every 10 minutes, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. So far in 2023, the Florida Poison Information Center has received more than 24,000 calls about medication dosing mistakes or accidental ingestions in children under 19.

“Around the holidays, we often see one of two things happening: a person is traveling child-free to a house with littles, or a family with children is visiting someone who may not be used to having kids or teens in the home,” said Winberry. “Many times, people leave their medications out on the counter, in a bathroom, or in a suitcase or purse. Young children are particularly at risk because they usually weigh significantly less than the person for whom the medication was prescribed.”

Examples of unsafe places to store medication around children include:

  • Purses, suitcases or backpacks
  • Kitchen counters
  • Low cabinets
  • Bedside tables
  • Anywhere a child can see it

Instead, Winberry recommended storing medications and other potentially dangerous items in:

  • A lockable box or bag
  • High cabinets, preferably that lock

Change your perspective

One of the easiest things parents can do when they arrive in a new environment is to drop down to their hands and knees and take a look around, from their child’s point of view. This can help you find any potential hazards in the home that you might not see otherwise.

“You’ll be surprised what you miss from your taller vantage point,” Winberry said.

If you’re the one hosting a family with children, ask the parents if there’s anything you can do to childproof your home before they arrive.

“Parents know their children best and may be aware of things that will interest them based on their age. As a parent, don’t hesitate to talk to the host so you can work together to make a safe holiday!” Winberry said.

Keeping your children safe will help ensure the whole family has a happy holiday season. Safe Kids Northeast Florida, led by THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, provides free injury prevention awareness materials and resources. For more medication safety tips from Safe Kids, click here.

Source: Florida Poison Information Center

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