Grandma and Grandpa: keep medicine away from kids

As grandparents are playing a bigger role in their grandchildren's lives these days, doctors are urging them to be more vigilant about how and where they store their medication. Photo courtesy of cohdra on

SALT LAKE CITY – Grandparents take steps to childproof their homes with stair gates and electrical outlet covers, but a new <a href=”” target=”parent”>study</a> has found that too often they fail to safeguard them from another potentially deadly hazard: prescription medication. The report, from Safe Kids Worldwide, found that more than a quarter of grandparents who watch youngsters store their medications in easy-to-open containers. Of those, 42 percent leave them in easy-to-reach locations. 

The results can be fatal, warned Adam Algren, a medical toxicologist and emergency medicine physician at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

“Given that more and more older adults are taking more and more prescription medications, a single pill or two can be potentially serious and life-threatening in a small child,” Algren said.

Grandparents and anyone with children in the house can reduce the risk of accidental poisoning by keeping all pills out of reach and, ideally, locked up, he said, adding that medication should be left in its original container and never be referred to as “candy.”

Algren said “up and away and out of sight” is the best way to store medication. He stressed that just because a container says it is “child-resistant,” that doesn’t mean it is “childproof.”

“Given enough time and experience with playing with whatever the container is, children can sometimes defeat those closure mechanisms,” he said.

If a child accidentally takes a medication, the national Poison Helpline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-222-1222, he said. If the child is having trouble breathing or won’t wake up, he advised that the caregiver call 911.

The report is online at <a href=”” target=”parent”></a>.

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