January 2012 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!

A prescription for prescriptions!

The Centers for Disease Control and their health partners have launched a new campaign called “Up and Away and Out of Sight” to encourage parents and caregivers to protect children from accidental drug overdoses.

The growing use of prescription drugs by adults is thought to be a contributing factor in accidental drug poisonings of children. The most common drugs found by and ingested by children are opiod drugs like Oxycontin and Percocet used for pain relief, muscle relaxers, sleeping pills, and heart medications.

Medication poisoning of children ages 5 years and under increased by 22% between the years of 2001 and 2008 according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. It is a leading cause of death in children ages 6 months-5 years of age. More than 60,000 young children go to emergency rooms each year because they ingested medications while their parents or caregivers were not looking. Children are very curious! Children younger than 5 years old like to put everything they find into their mouths. Children also tend to share what they find with other children so it is very important to provide adequate supervision at all times.

Up and Away and Out of Sight offers parents a safety tip sheet. Some of the recommendations include always putting every medication and vitamin up and away every time you use it. Always store medications in a safe location too high for children to reach them and to see them. Always relock safety caps on medicine bottles-however, no medication can be 100% childproof. Never tell a child that medication is candy to try to get them to take it. Tell children what medication is and why you must be the person to give it to them. Remind any persons who visit to keep purses, bags, and coats with medications in them up and away and out of sight of children. Keep the poison control number close to the phone or posted somewhere where you can easily see it. The number is 1-800-222-1222. You can call this number 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.

Improper disposal of medicines can lead to accidental ingestion by children. Do not throw unused or unwanted medications in the garbage where children can find them. Take unused and unwanted medications to a local drop off center. Many police departments and local pharmacies participate in this program. Visit Safe Medicine Disposal for ME at http://www.safemeddisposal.com.

For more information about accidental poisoning or Up and Away and Out of Sight visit http://www.safekids.org, http://www.drugfree.org, or http://www.cdc.gov.