Preventing Accidental Poisoning of Children: How Grandparents Can Help

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 7 million grandparents live with one or more minor grandchild. Data from the last decade shows grandparents are the primary caregiver of roughly 21% of preschool-aged children. At Jacoby & Meyers, we have an immense amount of respect for the millions of older Americans who sacrifice in order to ensure their grandchildren receive the love and care they deserve. We hope you and your family finds the information below helpful.

Many older Americans rely on a number of prescription medications to maintain their health. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that approximately 39% of seniors are on 5 or more prescription drugs. A large quantity of prescription medicine in a home increases the risk of accidental medicine poisoning to young children. The good news is with proper precautions accidental poisonings are almost always preventable.

A prescription drug that is beneficial to the person prescribed the medication may be toxic to anyone who is not prescribed the said drug. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, about 60,000 children ages 6 and younger are treated in emergency rooms due to accidental medication consumption. Out of these visits, about 48% of the medicine taken by children were prescribed to the children’s grandparents. According to Family Safety & Health, children find medicine from:

  • Pillboxes: 23%
  • The ground: 23%
  • Purses or diaper bags: 19%
  • Counters: 18%
  • Cabinets or refrigerators: 8%

To help prevent prescription drug-related poisonings, grandparents (and parents) should:

1. Store medicine in child-resistant containers and always keep the cap locked.

Most prescription pill bottles are specially designed to keep children from opening them. By keeping medications in the original bottle you can reduce the risk of medical poisoning or and a trip to the hospital.

2. Keep medicine out of reach and out of sight.

Grandparents should keep medicine in hard to reach places at home. After taking your medications be sure to put the pill bottles back in your designated safe spot before your child has an opportunity to grab the bottle.

3. Check your personal belongings such as jackets, purses, and pockets.

Leaving pills in your pocket or purse may seem convenient, but it could be a deadly decision. Young children are curious by nature. If your little one decides to explore your purse or pockets they could easily find the pills you left for yourself and ingest them without you knowing.

4. Don’t use pill bottles as a reminder

Some adults leave pill bottles out in plain sight to serve as a reminder to take them.  It is important to remember if the medication is easily accessible to you; it is probably easily accessible to your child. Instead of leaving the pills out use sticky notes on the bathroom mirror or set daily alarms/reminders.

5. Always be prepared

Having the phone number for the 24-hour poison hotline is a great way to be prepared if anything does happen. It is always better to be safe than sorry. The number for the poison hotline is (800)-222-1222.

You can find more senior safety tips below: