Child Safety: Keeping Medicines Out of Reach

Child Safety: Keeping Medicines Out of Reach Family Doctor Logo

Why is it important to keep medicines and vitamins out of my child’s reach?

Medicines are meant to help make you feel better or to help treat a medical condition. But if medicines aren’t taken exactly the right way, they can be harmful, especially for children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 60,000 young children go to the emergency room each year because they got into medicines while their parents or caregivers were not looking.

Keeping all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and vitamins out of your child’s reach and sight is the best way to ensure your child’s safety. The following tips will help you childproof your medicines:

Pick a place your children can’t reach.

Find a place in your home that is too high for your child to reach or see. Walk around your house and decide on the safest place to keep your medicines and vitamins. Because some children can climb (using the toilet or countertops), locked cabinets are the safest place to keep your medicines and vitamins.

Put medicines and vitamins away every time.

Always put medicines and vitamins away every time you use them. This includes medicines and vitamins you use every day. Never leave them out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you know you will need to give your child medicine again in a few hours.

Teach your child about medicine safety.

Tell your child what medicine is and explain why you must be the one to give medicine to your child. Don’t tell your child that medicine is candy or tastes like candy to get him or her to take it. Don’t let your child play doctor with empty medicine bottles.

Tell guests about medicine safety.

Ask houseguests and visitors to put purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them up and away, and to keep them out of sight when they are in your home. And be sure to keep your purse, bag, or coat with medicines in it stored safely away from your child, too.

Hear the click to make sure the safety cap is locked.

Always use the safety caps that are supplied with medicines. Be sure to relock the safety cap on a medicine bottle after using it. If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click. But remember that even though many medicines and vitamins have safety caps, children may still be able to open them. Always keep your medicines and vitamins stored safely in a place where your children can’t reach or see them.

Be prepared in case of an emergency.

Call your poison control center at 800-222-1222 right away if you think your child might have gotten into a medicine or vitamin. Program the number for the poison control center into your home or cell phone so you can have it available when you need it. Make sure that you post the number for your poison control center where babysitters or other caretakers can find it.