Protect against medication poisonings

As National Safety Month draws to a close, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department is calling attention to the dangers of medication poisonings.

Children are poisoned by pills or liquid medicine left unattended on countertops and tables, loose in purses or found on the floor. More than 60,000 young children visit emergency rooms each year because of medication poisonings.

Protect your children.

Store medicines and vitamins up and away, out of reach and out of sight of young children. Find a place in your home that is too high for children to reach or see. Walk around your house and decide on the safest place to keep your medicines and vitamins.

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 have to give the medicine again in a few hours.

Tell your children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them.

Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.

Listen for the click to make sure the safety cap is locked.

Remember, even though many medicines and vitamins have safety caps, children may be able to open them.

Ask houseguests and visitors to keep purses, bags or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.

Put the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone.

Learn how to prevent medicine dosing errors. Parents are more likely to make mistakes when giving medicines to infants and toddlers than to older children. For example, half of the mistakes leading to emergency room visits from cough and cold medicines occur when giving medicines to infants and toddlers.

Read all of the information on the package label and follow the directions. Do not give a child medicine more often or in greater amounts than is stated on the package.

Use only the measuring device (dropper, dosing cup or dosing spoon) that is included with the product. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon or tablespoon for giving medicines to children. A kitchen spoon or some other device could hold the wrong amount. If a measuring device is not included with the product, purchase one at a pharmacy or ask for one from your pharmacist.

Check the “active ingredients” in prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Make sure that you do not give your child two medicines that have the same “active ingredient.” If you have questions ask your doctor or pharmacist.

If you do not understand the instructions on the label, or how to use the dosing device, do not use the medicine. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you have questions or are confused.

To learn more visit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website to prevent an accidental overdose at