A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed more than 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms each year because they got into medicines while their caregiver wasn't looking.
This can be a very traumatizing event for children, as well as caregivers, said Capt. Michelle O'Neill, Irwin Army Community Hospital Emergency Room head nurse.
"It's scary for a child to come to the ER and get blood drawn, drink charcoal and be monitored for a long period of time," she said.
Prevention is the key. By taking safety measures at home and while traveling, accidental ingestion can be avoided, O'Neill said. And, in case of an emergency, patients should visit their local hospital emergency department immediately.
Parents can keep their children safe by following these tips from the CDC's Up and Away and Out of Sight program at www.upandaway.org/.
Put medicines and vitamins up and away – out of reach and out of sight.
Children are curious and put all sorts of things in their mouths. Even if parents turn their backs for less than a minute, children can quickly get into things that could hurt them. Parents should pick a storage place in their home that the child cannot reach or see. Different Families will have different places. Walk around the house and decide on the safest place to keep medicines and vitamins.
Put medicines and vitamins away every time.
This includes medicines and vitamins someone uses every day. Parents should never leave them out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child's bedside, even if they have to give the medicine again in a few hours.
Hear the click to make sure the safety cap is locked.
Always relock the cap on a medicine bottle. If the bottle has a locking cap that turns, twist it until it clicks. Remember, even though many medicines have safety caps, children may be able to open them. Every medicine and vitamin must be stored up and away and out of children's reach and sight.
Teach children about medicine safety.
Parents should teach children what medicine is and why they must be the one to give it to them. Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if the child doesn't like to take his or her medicine.
Tell guests about medicine safety.
Ask house guests and visitors to keep purses, bags or coats that have medicine in them up and away and out of sight when they are in the home.
Be prepared in case of an emergency.
Parents should call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away if they think their child might have gotten into a medicine or vitamin. Parents should program the Poison Control number into their home and cell phones, so they will have it when they need it.