Medications: potential killers in the home

Do you store your medications in a safe place? This is a very important question, because accidental ingestion of medications is one of the leading causes of unintentional child poisoning in Canada.

Do you store your medications in a safe place? This is a very important question, because accidental ingestion of medications is one of the leading causes of unintentional child poisoning in Canada.

Even though these medications are used for the treatment of common diseases in adults, when it comes to your little ones, these colourful tablets and gelcaps can be deadly. According to Dr. Anna Jarvis of the Hospital for sick children (SickKids) in Toronto, the six most important domestic killers are, in order: antidepressants; antipsychotic drugs; quinine derivatives; heart and hypertension medications; opium derivatives; and antidiabetic drugs.

Therefore, if you have children, or if children occasionally visit your home, you should keep all of your medications in child-resistant containers, also called “secure” or “child-proof” packaging, and keep them out of their view and out of their reach. Furthermore, you should never leave your containers on your bedside table, kitchen table, or bathroom counter. For example, when there are children in the house, never leave your tablets out in anticipation of your next dose, be it only long enough to fetch a glass of water…

Furthermore, you should always keep all vitamins, prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications in their original packaging, as that are properly identified by the manufacturer. In the event that a child accidentally ingests a medication, you will be able to identify the exact product he or she has taken, which in turn will enable the emergency medical team to react appropriately.

When you have children at home, you should not forget to inform your guests of these cautionary measures. Handbags and purses should always be put away to prevent little hands from rummaging through them in search of colourful pills.

A new trend has also evolved with teenagers. In fact, some of them actually want to take narcotics for their euphoric effects, and they have no qualms about rummaging through cupboards and purses in their quest for medications that were prescribed to their parents or grandparents. If your physician has prescribed these types of medications, make sure you keep them in a secure location. In addition, you should not hesitate to engage your children in a discussion about the dangers of taking medications that were prescribed for someone else.

If ever a child or teenager has accidentally ingested a medication, call the poison control centre at 1-800-463-5060, go to the emergency room immediately and bring the medications he or she has ingested, or dial 811.

You would never leave weapons or alcohol where your children can reach them, would you? Well, you should take the same precautions with your medications, because they can be equally dangerous.

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