Parenting In Focus: Keeping medicines safe

There are generally very few places in your home more dangerous than the bathroom — specifically, the medicine cabinet, where parents keep medicines they would not like their young children to get into.

If that is your goal, here are some things you really ought to consider.

You may be tempted to call medicine candy to encourage your child to take it, but it is not a good idea. Some medicines can be poison to a child who takes the wrong kind, or if they take too much. You want to be sure the medicine is correct for your child and the problem he or she is having, and that it is being taken safely.

Here are some ways you can help keep your child safe:

• Call each medicine by its real name.

• Use product with child-resistant tops.

• Remember there is nothing that is truly childproof.

• Keep medicine in its original container to avoid confusion.

• If the phone rings, take the medication with you. Do not leave medicines on counter. You don’t want it available to anyone who walks by including your child.

• Use the proper spoon or vial for measuring. A teaspoon for measuring is not the same as a teaspoon from the silverware drawer.

• Don’t take your own medication around your toddler because she will want to mimic you.

• Put medicines up and away and out of children’s reach and sight. Children are curious and put all sorts of things in their mouths. Even if you turn your back for less than a minute, they can quickly get into things that could hurt them.

• Any vitamins with iron should be considered medicine and an overdose can be fatal.

• Remember, your child can get to places and do things you never dreamed.

About 50,000 young children end up in emergency rooms each year because they got into medicines while an adult wasn’t looking. These emergency visits can be prevented by always putting every medicine up and away and out of children’s reach and sight every time you use it.

At a young age, start talking to your children about medicines and how you make medicine decisions for yourself and for them. This teaches children how to use medicines safely and correctly and to avoid harm from misuse of medicines. It also encourages them to ask questions about medicines and medicine decisions.

One of the most important jobs of being a parent is to keep your child safe. Every parent wants to do this, but it’s easy to forget to do all the things we parents ought to do. Keeping your child safe starts here.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.