Make the season safe for small children

Published in Pediatrics Author: Geri Jacobson,MD

If you were 2 years old, could you tell the difference?

Be mindful to store medication and other dangerous household goods where young children cannot get into them

The holiday season is a magical time for young children, but it can also be a dangerous time for them.

Parents of small children are always on the lookout for how a small item on the floor can quickly become a choking hazard. But the holidays require another level of attentiveness because commonplace objects of the season — like Christmas tree pieces, ornaments, small toys and candy — can all pose problems if they get in the wrong hands.

It’s also a time of year when you may be visiting a grandparent, friend or other family member who has not childproofed or is not aware the dangers present at home — including medications. Or you may have others staying with you during the holidays, who bring their prescriptions and are not used to having young children around.

So it’s a good time for everyone to remember some basic storage tips for medications. These include:

  • Keep medicines stored out of reach AND sight every time. Store it in a cabinet above the height of a counter, so that a young child cannot see it and it’s out of reach. Securing this cabinet with a childproof lock is also a good, additional safety measure.
  • Be aware of other household items that can be dangerous if swallowed by young children. Treat these no different than how you store medications. These include:
    • Magnets
    • Lithium or button batteries
    • Laundry detergent pods
  • Butt paste and silica gel packets (sometimes included in cured meat packaging) are also common items that are accidentally swallowed by young children. While these items are not as dangerous as the other items listed above – parents should also take caution to store these items safely.
  • Don’t allow yourself — or others in your home — to keep medications in a handy location, such as a bedside or in a purse. The risk of it being discovered is too great.
  • Keep your medications in their original child-resistant packaging. But remember that child-resistant doesn’t mean child-proof and you shouldn’t store your medications less safely as a result.
  • Be attentive. If you are taking your medication and you get distracted by your phone or someone at the door — be sure to bring it with you. Don’t leave it out.
  • The Poison Help Hotline is 1-800-222-1222. Store this number in your phone and in a prominent location at home in case an emergency should arise.

Editor's Note: Special thanks to the Minnesota Poison Control System for the information and visuals in this article. To learn more about their efforts at www.mnpoison.org.