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500,000 Times Each Year a Child gets into Medicine or gets the Wrong Dose

March 20, 2013
 67,000 times each year a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning

Washington, D.C.– Today Safe Kids Worldwide released a new research report that found kids are getting into medicine at an alarming rate. 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 67,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. This is a 30 percent increase over the past ten years.

In its report entitled An In-Depth Look at Keeping Young Children Safe Around Medicine, Safe Kids examines data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, information from poison control centers and findings from several focus groups among moms. The report reviews what is happening in households that leads to these disturbing numbers and offers parents simple things they can do to protect their children.

“Ask any parent, and they will tell you they store medicine where children can’t get them,” said Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “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.”

The increase in exposure reflects the increase in medicines in the home. Most adults take medicine or vitamins on a regular basis; eight out of ten adults took at least one medicine or vitamin in the past week, and three out of ten adults took five or more.  But they don’t always keep them up and away from kids. In 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to an adult.

“Curious kids can get into trouble fast,” added Carr. “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 Around Medicine

  • 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 harmful, 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.
  • Put the nationwide Poison Help Number (1-800-222-1222) in your phones.
  • Visit SafeKids.org for more tips on safe storage, safe dosing and safe disposal of medicine.

National Poison Prevention Week is March 17 – 23, 2013.

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About Safe Kids Worldwide

Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the U.S. and in 23 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 53 percent. Working together, we can do much more for kids everywhere. Join our effort at safekids.org.

Media Contact

Jen Pollakusky
Media Manager
jpollakusky@safekids.org
202-662-4476