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The Health Corner: Prevent medication poisonings in your home

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March 3, 2011 - Medication poisonings in children happen often, even with the use of childproof containers. In 2009, more than one-half of poisonings happened in children who were younger than 6 years old. Adults can also become victims of accidental medication poisoning. There are many things you can do to prevent poisonings from happening in your home.

Drugs and Medicines

Follow the directions on the bottle whenever you give or take medicines. Read all of the warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken when you take other medicines or drink alcohol.

Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night so that you know you have the right amount of the right medicine.

Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.

Never share or sell your prescription drugs.

Keep pain medications, such as methadone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.

Keeping Children Safe

Put the poison control number on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. In the U.S., the number is 1-800-222-1222. In Canada, the number is different for each province. You can find the correct phone number on the first page of your local telephone book or online at

Keep all drugs in medicine cabinets or other childproof cabinets that young children cannot reach.

Don't take medicine in front of children because they like to copy adults.

Don't call medicine "candy."

Don't let guests leave drugs where children can find them, such as in a purse, backpack, coat pocket, or unlocked suitcase.

When you take medicines, do not put your next dose on the counter where children can reach them.

Never leave children alone with your medications. If you are taking medicine and you have to do something else, such as answer the phone, take young children with you.

Don't leave your medication out after use. Put them in a childproof cabinet as soon as you are done with them.

Don't throw away medication patches or pills where children can find them. Used medication patches should be folded in half (so the sticky side sticks together) before discarding. There may still be enough medication in a used patch to harm a child or pet if chewed. Check with your pharmacist about what to do with medications you no longer need.

What to Do if a Poisoning Happens

Stay calm.

Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has passed out or is not breathing. If the victim is awake, call your poison control center. Try to have the following information:

How old the victim is and how much they weigh

What time the poisoning happened

What the victim took

Where the poisoning happened

Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

From the Prescriber's Letter


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 March 2011 13:40 )  


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