I watched in disbelief a recent report on The Today Show showing 4-year-old children opening safety caps on various types of medication. Not shocked, though, as we experienced the same thing in our own home many years ago.
When my oldest son was about 5 years old, he pulled a chair over to a kitchen cabinet, climbed up on the counter and found a bottle of vitamins, which in his mind, I suppose, looked like candy.
After a short period of time, my husband found him with the pills in his mouth and the red dye from the pills all over his mouth.
A call to the poison control center confirmed a needed trip to St. Luke's Hospital. We never knew if he ingested any of the pills; just to be safe, they gave him the carbonated drink in case he had.
Thankfully, he was fine and we were lucky.
As many years have passed since this happened, I do not remember if there was a child safety cap on the vitamins.
Jeff Rossen, in his piece for The Today Show, quoted a new research report generated by Safe Kids Worldwide showing 67,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medication poisoning.
"This is a 30-percent increase over the past 10 years," according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
What I do know is the vitamins were placed high in the cabinet, obviously not high enough.
"We invited a group of 4-year-olds to a playdate," Rossen said in his report. "Then we bought several medications, from ibuprofen to acetaminophen, cough syrup, iron pills, prescription antibiotics. We also bought toxic drain and floor cleaners. If swallowed by a child, all these products can be poisonous, even deadly. That's why they come with child-resistant safety caps."
After emptying, washing and sanitizing the various shaped bottles, Rossen gathered the children and asked them to open the bottles with their parents watching in another room.
Rossen reported within three seconds, at least one of the children had opened one of the bottles of ibuprofen, the No. 1 drug kids get into according to Safe Kids.
"About a minute later, she opened another bottle, of acetaminophen No. 3 on the list," Rossen said. "In fact, every single child in our group opened at least one bottle."
"Every minute of every day, a poison control center receives a call about a potential medicine poisoning for a child age 5 and under," according to Safe Kids USA.
Rossen said under federal law, the caps do not have to be childproof, just child resistant.
What I know is that there is no way I can open those bottles in three seconds. The older I get, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to open these child resistant caps.
During a recent battle with a cold, I gave up attempting to open the Vicks DayQuil packs and yielded to a pair of scissors to open the medicine.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how a child can open "child resistant" packaging and I can't.
There are some ways parents and grandparents can keep children safely away from medicines.
Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, offered these tips to keep kids safe around medicine.
·Put medicine and vitamins up and away and out of sight. In 67 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine was left within reach of the child, such as in a purse, on a counter or under a sofa cushion.
·Even if you are tempted to keep it handy, put medicine out of reach after every use.
·Look around your home for products you might not think about as harmful, like rubbing alcohol, eye drops or gummy vitamins and store them out of the reach of children.
·When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats where kids can't get to them. In 43 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a relative, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.
·Be alert to medicine in places your child visits. Take a look around to make sure there isn't medicine within reach of your child.
·Program the nationwide poison control number, 800-222-1222 into your telephones.
I would also add communication to the list of safety tips.
In our case, the medicine was out of reach, but my clever child within moments of us not watching was able to get his hands on the vitamins.
Perhaps if I had explained to my son it was medicine I was taking and not candy, he would not have attempted to get to the bottle of vitamins.
I do not think the government needs to do anything more; in the case of safety caps on medicine, that is enough.
It is our job as parents to keep the medicine out of the hands of our children.
Now, if I could just figure out how to open the bottles for myself.
East Penn Press