Over 2 million poisoning incidents are reported in the United States each year causing 700,000 hospital or emergency room visits and 35,000 deaths. Children under 6 account for 50% of poison exposures and 92% of poisoning deaths occur in people older than 20. The biggest cause of these poisoning-related emergency calls and deaths are related to ingesting pharmaceutical substances (includes over-the-counter and prescription medications). A little reminder on medication safety may be in order.
Never take other people’s prescription drugs. For your prescription drugs always follow the label’s instructions. When taking an over-the-counter or prescription drug, always know the following.
- Indications – what it is for
- Directions – how to take it, including dosage
- Active and inactive ingredients – what it contains
- Warning signs – what its unusual effects are
- Precautions – what activities you should not do while taking it
- Keep all medicines locked up and out of reach
- Only give medicine that is safe based on age and weight
- Choose containers that are hard to open; replace caps tightly after use
- Call medicine by its proper name. Never joke that it is candy.
Keep your fork