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Grandma and Grandpa: Keep Medicine Away From Kids

PHOTO: As grandparents are playing a bigger role in their grandchildren's lives these days, doctors are urging them to be more vigilant about how and where they store their medication. Photo courtesy of cohdra on morguefile.com
PHOTO: As grandparents are playing a bigger role in their grandchildren's lives these days, doctors are urging them to be more vigilant about how and where they store their medication. Photo courtesy of cohdra on morguefile.com
March 24, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - While grandparents take steps to childproof their homes with gates and outlet covers, a new study finds they too often fail to safeguard a potentially deadly hazard: prescription medication. The report from Safe Kids Worldwide finds that more than a quarter of grandparents who watch young kids store their medications in easy-to-open containers, and of those, 42 percent leave them in easy-to-reach locations.

According to Dr. Adam Algren, a toxicologist and emergency room physician at Children's Mercy Hospital, the results of such situations can be fatal.

"Given that more and more older adults are taking more and more prescription medications, a single pill or two can be potentially serious and life-threatening in a small child," he warned.

Algren said grandparents and anyone with children in the house can reduce the risk of accidental poisoning by keeping all pills out of reach, and ideally, locked up. He added that medications should be kept in their original containers, and should never be referred to as "candy."

He said up and away and out of sight is the best way to store medications, and he stressed that just because a container says it is "child-resistant," that doesn't mean it is "childproof."

"Given enough time and experience with playing with whatever the container is, children can sometimes defeat those closure mechanisms."

Algren said that if a child has accidentally taken medication, the national Poison Helpline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-222-1222. He added that if the child is having trouble breathing or can't be waked, the caregiver should immediately call 911.

That report is online at SafeKids.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO