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Your medicine can kill a child

Editor’s note: The following is a blog entry for “Family and Living” that appears on the Echo Press website under Areavoices. The content comes from the staffs of Forum Communications newspapers and websites, and from the communities that they serve. This piece was provided by Safe Kids Grand Forks and its lead agency, Altru Health System.

Every minute a parent or caregiver calls a poison control center about a medication poisoning.

More than 67,000 children are seen in emergency departments for medication poisoning. More than 12,000 children are hospitalized each year for medication poisoning.

It is preventable.

Medication poisoning is kids who have gotten into medicine they weren’t supposed to or kids who were given the wrong amount of medicine. Young children are getting into medicines and getting hurt, but it can be prevented. Here’s how:

• Store medicine and vitamins safely – up and away and out of sight after every use. For children seen in the emergency room, 67 percent of the time medications were left in a place the child could see and reach it – in a purse, on a counter, etc., and 69 percent of the time it is medication that belongs to the mom or grandparent.

• Give medicines safely – by reading the medicine labels and following the dosing instructions. Keep all medicines in their original packages and container, so there is no confusion about what is in the container.

• Get rid of expired or unused medicines safely. Bring to a local drop off site that participates in the Take-Back Program or dispose of by doing the following: Put medicine into a seal-able plastic bag. Add water to dissolve solid medicine like pills, tablets and capsules. Add kitty litter, sawdust or coffee grounds to the plastic bag.

• Talk to family and friends about important safety information. Talk to caregiver and babysitters about storing and giving medicines safely. Ask guests and family members to keep their medicine up and away when they are visiting. Give a copy of your child’s medicine schedule to caregivers who will be giving your child medicine.

• Know Poison Control’s number. It is 1-800-222-1222. The poison control center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls are free and confidential.

When should you call the poison control center? If you have questions about giving a child medicine; if your child was given the wrong amount of medicine; if your child has taken medicine that he or she was not supposed to.

When should you call 911? If your child stops breathing; if your child collapses; if your child has a seizure.