Keep Medicine Away From Kids

How medicines are stored impacts both their effectiveness and your child's safety. These important tips from a pediatrician and a pharmacist will keep your family safe so you can get the most from your medications.

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Don't use the bathroom medicine cabinet for medicine

Cough Medicine

Storing medicines in the bathroom medicine cabinet is a big mistake, says Higgs. "It's best to keep medicines not only out of reach of children, but also out of sight. If a child sees the medicine in the bathroom cabinet, he or she will figure out how to reach it. And this location is easily accessed by older children and teenagers."

The moisture in the bathroom is another issue. "Unless otherwise instructed, medicines should be stored away from heat, light and moisture. And only store medicines in the refrigerator if instructed to do so."

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Rules apply to OTC medicines too

Make sure your children -- regardless of how old they are -- understand the potential dangers of using or abusing items in the medicine cabinet, warns Zarbock. Over-the-counter drugs can be harmful. "Even the most common fever reducers, cough medicines and pain killers may cause serious injury or death when used inappropriately."

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A checklist

Higgs makes these recommendations for storing your medicines:

  • Store medicines in their original containers with child safety caps and proper labeling.
  • Lock the cabinet.
  • Never store medicine near a dangerous substance which could be taken or given by mistake.
  • Regularly check expiration dates and properly discard outdated medicines.
  • Keep the number to the Poison Control Center on hand:  1-800-222-1222.

A few preventative measures are crucial to protecting our children, explains Dr. Zarbock. It is possible for young children to open a "child-proof" cap or reach a cupboard above the fridge. Keep medicines under lock-and-key and keep your kids safe.

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