I learned about poisoning by medicine overdose by accident. Sometimes we learn lessons the hard way. My nearly two-year-old gave this lesson first-hand.
Just for the record, my youngest child has taught me more lessons about fear than any of my kids. He has stood, pressed against nothing more than a flimsy screen, from the third story that overlooked a concrete patio and cement stairs, defying death. I have also called 9-1-1 twice regarding him. That’s two more times than I have with any of my six children–combined! The first time he was hiding, the second time was far more frightening.
Mother of the Year has never been in my cards, however, in 2008, any beam of hope was snuffed out completely. I thought I had taken all the precautionary details. I had put medicine in a cabinet, which I thought was, out of reach for my young toddler.
In a moment where time seemed to accelerate, rather than stall, I left the kitchen, walked around the corner to use the restroom–less than three minutes–and when I returned, my son was standing on the counter, drinking a bottle of Children’s Ibuprofen like it was an ice-cold soda!
The bottle now empty as my son sighed with accomplishment and wiped his chubby arm across his medicine covered mouth.
My heart stopped!
My feet dashed!
My hands trembled as I raked through the phone book trying to get my mind to focus so I could find the number to Poison Control. When panic took over as I tried to recall if I should induce vomiting or keep it down, I abandoned the phone book and called 9-1-1.
I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to go through the terror I did.
67,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. Over the past decade, this is a 30-percent increase.
Data collected from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, poison control centers and findings from several focus groups among moms. It also takes an in-depth look at what is happening in households that are leading to these tragic numbers.
The increase in exposure reflects the increase in medicines in the home.
Most adults take medicine or vitamins on a regular basis; eight out of ten adults consume, at least, one medicine or vitamin in the past week, and three out of ten adults took five or more.
In 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to an adult.
I’m living proof that in spite of what I believed, there was a failure. It took just minutes for my child to drink the entire bottle! It took hours of monitoring at the Emergency Room to be sure he was okay and more hours at home keeping a watchful eye in the event there was some reaction.
Here are some tips to keep kiddos safe around medicine and prevent medication overdose
• Put medicines up and away and out of sight.
• Make sure that all medicines, including vitamins and adult medicines, are stored out of reach and out of sight of children.
• Consider products you might not think about as medicines.
It may be tempting to keep medicine close at hand when you need to give another dose of medicine in just a few hours. Accidents can happen fast. It only takes a few seconds for children to get into medicine that could make them very sick. Put medicine up and away after every use. And if you need a reminder, set the alarm on your watch or cell phone, or write yourself a note.
Read the label and know what’s in the medicine.
Take the time to read the label and follow the directions on your child’s medicine. Check the active ingredients listed on the label. Don’t give your child more than one medicine with the same active ingredient. Giving your child, two or medicines that have the same active ingredient can put your child at risk for an overdose.
Put the Poison Control number in your home where it is visible and in your cell phone: 1-800-222-1222.
1 (800) 222-1222
American Association of Poison Control Centers
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
I believed I was doing everything I could to protect my children.
It wasn’t enough.
Thankfully it didn’t end fatally or cause a lifetime of health issues for my child.
One of the most encouraging things the doctor at ER said to me, as I sat with tears flooding my eyes was this:
Together, we can change the statistics of children’s medicine overdose. Take a moment to examine your medicine cabinet and move medications that put children at risk for accidental medicine overdose.