67,000 Children Treated in Emergency Rooms for Medicine Poisoning in 2011
ATLANTA (April 2, 2013) –Safe Kids Worldwide® has released a new research report that found children are finding and consuming adult medicine at an alarming rate. Every year, more than 500,000 parents and caregivers in the US call a poison control center because a child got into medicine that was not theirs, or because a child was accidentally given the wrong dose of medicine. Additionally, in 2011, more than 67,000 children were treated in an emergency room for medicine poisoning.
In its report entitled An In-Depth Look at Keeping Young Children Safe Around Medicine, Safe Kids examined data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, statistics from poison control centers, and findings from several parent focus groups. The report reviews the accidental behaviors in households that are leading to these disturbing numbers and offers parents simple tips for how they can protect their children.
“Ask any parent and they will tell you they store medicine where children can’t get to them,” said Kristen Sanderson of Safe Kids Georgia, which is supported by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “But they might not be thinking of pills stored in purses, vitamins left on counter tops, or a diaper rash remedy near a changing table.”
Alarmingly, the study found that 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning were due to the child getting into adult medicine. Children are uncovering medicine throughout the house: with 27 percent of instances finding medicine on the ground or somewhere it was misplaced; 20 percent from a purse or wallet; 20 percent from the counter; 15 percent from a pillbox or bag of pills; 6 percent from the cabinet; and 12 percent from other places around the home.
The prevalence of these accidental poisonings also reflects the increase in the number of medicines stored in the home. Most adults take medicine or vitamins on a regular basis; eight out of 10 adults take at least one medicine or vitamin per week, and three out of 10 adults take five or more. Unfortunately, they do not always keep them out of reach of children.
“Curious kids can get into trouble fast,” added Kristen. “It only takes a few seconds for children to get into medicine that could make them very sick. Take a look around your house to make sure all medicine is up and away and out of sight.”
Tips to Keep Kids Safe from Medicine Poisoning Around the House:
- Put medicine and vitamins up and away and out of sight. (In 67 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine was left within reach of the child, such as in a purse, on a counter, or under a sofa cushion.)
- Even if you are tempted to keep it handy, put medicine out of reach after every use.
- Look around your home for products you might not think about as medicine, like rubbing alcohol, eye drops or gummy vitamins, and store them out of the reach of children.
- When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats where kids can’t get to them. (In 43 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a relative, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.)
- Be alert to medicine in places your child visits. Take a look around to make sure there isn’t medicine within reach of your child.
- Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.
- Visit SafeKids.org for more tips on safe storage, safe dosing and safe disposal of medicine.
- Watch and share this video with safety tips with your family and friends.
- Download the complete list of safety tips and visit our website at safekidsgeorgia.org.