According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C., poison-control centers receive more than 500,000 calls a year concerning the accidental ingestion of medications by children. More than 67,000 kids were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2011 alone for these ingestions. A breakdown of where children find these medications indicates it’s not the medicine cabinet:
- 27% of misplaced medicines are found by kids on the ground or in sofa cushions.
- 20% in a purse, bag, or wallet.
- 20% on a counter, table, dresser, or nightstand.
- 15% in a pillbox or bag of pills.
- 6% in a cabinet or drawer.
- The source of the ingested medicines are unknown 12% of the time.
As you might guess, most ingestions involve adult medications:
- 39% ingest their parent’s medicines (31% mom’s, 8% dad’s).
- 38% from grandparent’s.
- 12% from siblings.
- 5% from aunts and uncles.
- 6% from others.
In a video aired on NBC’s Today Show last week, Jeff Rossen had some young children demonstrate how easy it is to open child-safety caps on medicine bottles. You can watch that video here.
The report from Safe Kids Worldwide has some useful information, including these tips on how to dispose of medications:
> To safely dispose of most medications, pour the medication into a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), add water to dissolve it.
> Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for children and pets to eat) to the plastic bag.
> Remove any instructions and personal information from the bottle or packaging.
> The Food and Drug Administration says that a small number of medications are so dangerous that they should still be flushed down the toilet. A full list of these medications is available on their website.
> Another way to dispose of medicines is through medication take-back programs. Check for approved U.S., state and local collection medication disposal locations on the National Take-Back Initiative website.
Read report here.
Poison Control Phone Number: 1-800-222-1222