Think keeping a cabinet full of medications helps keep your kids healthy? Don't be so sure. A new report from the CDC shows that one in 150 2-year-olds are sent to the emergency room each year from unintentional medication overdose. "In recent years, the number of accidental overdoses in young children has increased by 20 percent," said Dr. Dan Budnitz, director of the CDC's Medication Safety Program.
Why are so many young kids overdosing on meds? Partly because some parents aren't following simple steps to ensure child safety. Keep clicking to see six mistakes parents make that might land kids in the E.R. with a medication overdose, according to the CDC...
1. Leaving medicine within reach
Any kind of medicine or vitamin can cause harm if taken in the wrong way - even medicine you can buy without a prescription. That means all pills and bottles should be kept in storage places too high for a child to reach or even see.
2. Leaving medicines out
Even if you have to give the medicine again in a few hours, don't leave it out, the CDC warns. Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child's bedside. Plain and simple: Put every medicine and vitamin away every time you use it.
3. Not waiting for the click
When closing a bottle of medicine with a safety cap, always make sure to twist the cap until you hear the click. Children can easily open bottles of medicine that aren't locked properly - and they're often able to open ones that are. This is why every medicine and vitamin should be stored up and away and out of child's sight after "locking" the cap.
4. Forgetting to instruct your child about safety
Some parents tell their kids that medicine is like candy to get them to take it - this is a big mistake. Parents should tell their children what medicine, why it's taken, and why parents must be the ones to give it to kids. If a child doesn't understand the effects of medicine, he or she is all the more likely to accidentally overdose.
5. Failing to remind guests about safety
Parents may have their rules down pat, but may forget to remind houseguests and visitors to be cautious of children. Parents should ask guests to keep their purses, bags, or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight when they are in the home.
6. Not knowing what to do in an emergency
The last thing parents should do if their child has overdosed on medication is panic and not take action. Parents should call the poison control center (800-22-1222) right away if they think their child may have gotten into a medicine or vitamin. The number should be programmed into home and cell phones.