Cold and Flu Season Tips for Safe Medicine Storage

(StatePoint) Between nose-wiping, temperature-taking and appropriately dosing and storing medicines, parents and caretakers have a lot to manage during the cold and flu season. With all the chaos a winter illness can bring, slip-ups can happen, leading to an emergency. Indeed, approximately 60,000 children visit the emergency department every year because they got into medicines that were left within reach, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It has been estimated that during cold and flu season, seven in 10 people will reach for over-the-counter medicines to treat fevers, sinus headaches and other unwelcome symptoms. That’s a lot of additional medication in the home. As this year’s cold and flu season gains momentum, the Up and Away campaign, in collaboration with the CDC and its PROTECT Initiative, reminds parents to keep all medicines up and away -- out of sight and out of reach of young children -- after every dose.

“Children are highly curious by nature, making it essential to never underestimate their ability to get their hands on medicine left within reach,” says Anita Brikman, executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation, an organization dedicated to medicine safety and a PROTECT partner.

The Up and Away campaign aims to prevent accidental, unsupervised ingestion of medicine by educating parents and caregivers about safe medicine storage. For a safer sniffle season, parents should follow these tips:

• Talk about it: Have a conversation with your kids about medicine. Teach them that medicine can help them feel better, but only when administered by a parent or caregiver. Let them know that there are different kinds of medicine and that those taken by others are not meant for them.

• Dose properly: Follow dosing instructions exactly as the package directs, using only the dosing device that comes with the medicine.

• Keep medicine up and away: Almost half of parents believe it’s okay to keep medicines visible on the kitchen counter or another handy location between doses when a child is sick, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. While it’s tempting to keep medicine handy when taking or administering it frequently, doing so likely means that the medication is within easy reach of children too. Between doses, medicine should be stored in its original child-resistant packaging, up and away in a location that is too high for young children to reach or even see. 

• Have the Poison Help number handy: 1-800-222-1222 is a life-saving number. Store it in your phone and post it somewhere handy, so that you and anyone caring for your young children -- babysitters, older children and family visitors -- are always prepared. To save the information automatically, text “POISON” to 797979.

For more tips and information, visit Up and Away.org.

This cold and flu season and year-round, keep children safe by always storing medicine out of reach.

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Photo Credit: (c) GMMB/Fotobutch

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