On the Pulse

Medicine Safety Reminders All Parents Should Know

3.21.2023 | Heather Cooper

A boy sips medicine while his mother watches

Medicines can do a lot of good, but they can cause harm if they get in the wrong hands or are used the wrong way. This is true for both prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

To be sure that medicines are both safe and effective, it’s crucial to follow dosing and safety rules.

On the Pulse shares important reminders and resources for parents and caregivers to help keep kids safe and healthy all year long.

Don’t Skip Over Instructions or Labels

Always read the instructions on a medicine label and follow them carefully, including those relating to age and weight. For liquid medicines, use the measuring device that came with the medicine. Never use a household spoon to measure medicine. Be sure to also record when you’ve given a dose and how much you give which serves as a reminder to yourself and ensures a safe ‘hand-off’ to other caregivers.

Cold medicines often contain more than one type of medication. Always check the list of active ingredients to ensure you don’t give medicine for fever or pain if you already gave a cold medicine that contains a fever or pain medicine. When possible, it’s best to give just one medicine at a time.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Always ask your child’s doctor or other healthcare provider if you have any questions. Teach your child to take medicine only when it’s given to them by a trusted adult. Never call medicine ‘candy’ to entice a child to take it, which can be confusing or may cause them to search for it and sneak it later.

Properly Store and Dispose of All Medicine

It’s important to keep medicines in their original containers with child-safety caps, but don’t trust these caps to keep a child from opening them. Keep all medicines out of sight, up high and out of reach of children. A locked cabinet is safest. Properly dispose of medicine when it’s expired or you no longer need it. Learn how and where to do this.

Ensure You and Others Are Prepared

Be prepared for poisoning emergencies by saving the National Poison Center help line in all your phones: 1-800-222-1222. Call the National Poison Center right away if you think your child might have gotten into a medicine or vitamin. And of course, be sure that all those who care for your child — including babysitters and grandparents — follow these safety guidelines.