Keep Children Safe During the Holidays


Be sure to keep your family safe during the holidays from accidental medication poisonings with these tips from Michael J. Gaunt, PharmD.

Dr. Gaunt reminds us that during the holidays family members and friends also may bring medications into the home when visiting. They may put a few doses of a medication in their purse, suitcase, or a container that is not child-resistant. They may even leave a pill or 2 out on the counter, ready to be taken.

Engage patients in discussions about safe storage of medications, including those brought into the home by guests. Important strategies to discuss with patients, parents, and caregivers include the following:

  • Keep all medications in a secure cabinet, locked if possible, up and away from the reach or view of children. Never leave medications on counters or tables (including children’s vitamins or iron supplements), even if they are in containers with child-resistant caps.
  • Avoid keeping medications in purses, backpacks, suitcases, or other places where children may explore, or in pockets where the medication can fall out.
  • Use child-resistant caps on containers and be sure they are closed properly after use.
  • With oral liquid medications, never leave a syringe bottle adaptor in place if it prevents the ability to secure the child-resistant cap.
  • When children visit other homes or when family or friends visit, look out for potential poisoning dangers and intervene before an accident happens. Discuss medication access and safety with hosts or guests.
  • Educate children about medications. Never tell children that medications are candy. Teach them that they should only take medication (or eat candy) when an adult has given them permission.
  • If a child is exhibiting any symptoms or acting strangely for any reason, do not wait. Keep the possibility of a poisoning in mind and seek help immediately.
  • Contact the Poison Help number (1-800-222- 1222) immediately if you think an accidental poisoning has occurred. Encourage your patients to program this number into their cell phones so they have ready access in the event of an emergency.
  • Visit to learn more ways to keep children safe from accidental medication poisonings.




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