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Medication Safety and Poison Prevention for Children

Accidental Overdoses Administered by a Parent or Caregiver

Sometimes an overdose can occur when parents mistakenly give too much medication. For example, a child can be given too much acetaminophen (Tylenol®) when the parent or caregiver mistakenly gives more than one acetaminophen-containing product. Mistakes are more prone to happen when parents or caregivers administer medications to infants and toddlers compared to older children.
Following the instructions of your child's physician and your pharmacist will help decrease this risk. If you are not sure exactly what dosage to give, call a healthcare provider (never "guess" at an appropriate dosage).

Household Chemicals and Children

Many common household products have the potential to be fatal in children. For example, products such as chemical household cleaners, laundry supplies, cosmetics, yard products, and even art supplies can be dangerous to your child. Any household product that is not used or stored properly has the potential to cause harm.
Keeping products in their original containers with the original labels will ensure proper use and help prevent confusion, while also helping in the case of an accidental ingestion, since the information supplied on the label is helpful for the poison control specialists. Using household products only as intended, along with storing them properly, can help decrease risks. 

How to Keep Your Child Safe

Preventing an accidental overdose can be achieved by practicing the following:
  • Always store medications out of your child's reach.
  • Always replace the safety cap on medications.
  • Give medications as indicated on the label or as instructed by a physician or pharmacist.
  • Use the measuring device that comes in the medication package or that you received from your pharmacist.
  • Only use medications that are packaged for children.
  • Throw away all unused (and no longer needed) or expired medication.
  • If you are in the middle of taking your medication and get interrupted to answer the door or phone, always take your child with you.
  • Store pillboxes out of your child's reach.
  • Store medication in a lockable box.
  • Be aware of medication safety at grandparents' houses. Ask if you may move medications out of the reach of children.
  • Always return household products to a safe location after each use.
  • Never mix household products together.
  • Open windows or turn fans on while using chemical cleaning agents.
  • Place the Poison Center number (1-800-222-1222) near all phones in the household and store on your cell phone. 
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