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Grandparents: Store your medicines safely

A grandma and grandpa read to their baby granddaughter.

July 23, 2019—If you're a grandparent, you know that little ones like to get into everything within reach—including your medications. But children can be harmed by medicines that weren't meant for them. Plus, older kids who find certain types of meds may intentionally misuse them.

That's why it's vital you store your medications safely when you spend time with your grandchildren. But a new poll suggests that many older adults may need to be more careful.

Risky practices revealed

The National Poll on Healthy Aging included more than 2,000 adults ages 50 to 80. It asked them questions about where and how they store their medications when grandchildren are around.

The poll revealed that many grandparents engage in risky practices, suggesting that they may not be aware of the dangers. For instance:

  • Only 5% said they routinely keep their medicines in a locked cupboard or cabinet when grandkids visit.
  • 72% said they kept their medicine in a purse or bag when they visit their grandchildren.
  • 7% said they leave their meds on counters or tables when they visit grandkids.
  • Nearly 1 out of 3 said they took their medications out of their original, childproof containers. Most said it was because they wanted to use a container that was easier to open, which means the containers could also be easy for children to open.

Sage advice for grandparents

The polling team offered grandparents these tips for keeping kids and teens safe:

  • Never put your medications in your purse or leave them out on a counter or a table, not even for a moment. It's best to keep them locked away in a cabinet or cupboard.
  • Do you use a pill organizer with compartments for each day of the week to keep track of your medicines? If so, be sure to keep the pill sorter out of the reach of children.
  • Help teach your grandchildren to stay away from your medications.
  • Get rid of medications you no longer need. Check the instructions that came with the medicine. Or ask your doctor or a pharmacist how to do this.
  • Memorize or keep the Poison Control Center hotline number handy. It's 800.222.1222. Call the center if you think your grandchild has taken any of your medicines.
  • Apply the same careful rules to over-the-counter medications and supplements too. Some of these can also cause accidental poisoning in children.

Learn more about storing medicines safely.

And find out how to be a safety-savvy grandparent.

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