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60,000 Kids Are Poisoned Every Year Because of Common Mistakes

Photograph by Twenty20

We all know how slick toddlers can be; you turn your back on them for even a second and they're getting into something. Turns out, when it comes to child-proof or child-resistant packaging, you really can't trust those safeguards to keep your kids out of danger.

Experts say that research suggests that half of parents believe child-resistant packing means kids won't be able to open medicine bottles at all, but between 45 and 55 percent of those accidental poisonings involve child-resistant packaging.

The report surveyed 2,000 parents with kids under 6 years old. What they found was that, although parents seem to know all the safety rules, they aren't exactly following them at home.

“Nine out of 10 parents know that medicine should be stored up and away and out of reach and sight, every time,” Morag Mackay, director of research for Safe Kids Worldwide, told Today. “But we found that 7 out of 10 of them admitted to not doing that.”

Just because you think your baby or toddler isn't able to reach something doesn't mean that's true.

And, although 9 out of 10 parents say they know storing medication safely is important, 7 out of 10 admit that despite recommendations to keep medicine up high where it's out of their kids' reach and sight, they're not actually doing it, says a new report about safe medicine storage from Safe Kids Worldwide.

In fact, kids as young as 1 month old have wound up in the ER poisoned by taking medicine that someone thought was out of their reach, according to Mackay.

Emergency rooms have been reporting a decline in accidental poisonings of children since 2010, but that decline has slowed in the last couple years. The report says that prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs aren't all you need to worry about either. Those medications cause the most severe poisoning cases, but parents also need to worry about kids getting into vitamins or supplements.

In more than half of all accidental medicine poisonings, the report found the medicine the child got into was not stored in an appropriate location and was accessible to the child.

Convenience shouldn't outweigh the risks, though, as the results can be very dangerous. It's best for medicine to be kept in its original, labeled container, even when it's a medication that's taken daily. Keeping it on the kitchen counter or another visible location so it's handy just isn't worth it. Kids always find a way to climb to reach things, and it's better to be safe than sorry, even if it's inconvenient to have to take the medicine in and out of the cabinet frequently.

In case of emergency, keep the Poison Help Line in your phone and have it posted visibly in your home too—on the refrigerator, near the landline phones and wherever else might be a good idea to keep it.

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