By: Jessica Bickford
With the holidays quickly skipping in our direction through autumn’s gloriously, crunchy carpet, we will most likely soon have visitors or be a visitor in someone’s home. This is a prime time to think about medication safety. The majority of us have over-the-counter and prescription medicine in our homes. The question is, “How do we ensure they are secure and only taken as designed?”
Here are a few thoughts:
- Keep all medicines secured and out of reach of children. The medicine cabinet is not a good place, as it gives unrestricted access to anyone who visits your bathroom… including curious, climbing children. Locked boxes or closets are considered optimal for many prescription drugs, but well-monitored, high-up, out-of-sight areas will work too. Basically any area that can easily be supervised, but not on display.
- If traveling with medicines, consider asking your host the best place to safely store them while visiting.
- Clean out your medicines regularly keeping only what is needed in your home. This is especially true of prescription medications. Take a few moments to go through your medicines, checking for expired or unwanted leftovers. The Hardwick Police Department, Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department, and Morristown Police Department are all equipped to take unwanted prescription medicines year-round, no questions asked.
Parents have an added need for vigilance. When my kids were younger we visited my husband’s grandparents for Thanksgiving and our kids discovered a dropped pill under the television stand. It was just a Tylenol and we were able to dispose of it, but it illustrates the need for added attention. Here are a few tips for parents:
- Talk to your host about the importance of making sure their medicines are secured.
- Before you arrive, talk with children about safe medicine use and the need to be given medicines by a parent or caregiver. Also share the importance of not eating “candy” without checking in with an adult first – many medicines and prescriptions may look like candy, especially to a younger child. Another good conversation to have is about staying in well-supervised areas. For example, “Grammy and Grampa’s bedroom is their space, and we want to respect their privacy.”
- If you have younger children who may be playing on the floor, sit with them and play. While playing, scan the lower half of the room to discover any wayward pill or other small objects that may present a risk.
- Monitor your children and teens. Have fun, but know where they are and what they’re doing. ParentUpVT.org is a great resource with tips for conversations and ideas for checking in with children and teens.
A few minutes spent thinking about medicine safety may help your upcoming holiday visits stay merry and bright!
Looking for more resources on prescription drug safety? Here are helpful resources:
Jessica Bickford has worked as Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley for a little over two years, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.