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