In light of the opioid epidemic and with fentanyl already in our communities, it’s more important than ever to teach our younger kids about medication safety. By being proactive now, we can reduce the number of accidental poisonings directly and lay a foundation to protect our kids well into their future.
It’s not too early to start with age-appropriate education about medicine safety. According to the Missouri Poison Center, students can begin to self-medicate around age 11. Below are five actionable tips and practices about medicine safety we can implement now while our children are still young to help them make safe choices related to medicines when they grow up:
1. Teach your child that they should only take medicine from trusted adults. Make a list of who these people are and remind them of this often.
2. Model responsible medication safety by never sharing medications or using someone else’s medications. Continually reinforce this message with your child, explaining that they should never share medication or take someone else’s medication.
3. Keep medications in their original containers to avoid confusion with other medicines or candy. This is also important because each medication has its own dosage, warnings, and directions for use. One of the most common mistakes when it comes to medication is accidental double dosing.
4. Always store medicine in a safe place, such as a place only you know about or a high shelf that children can’t reach. Don’t keep medicine in your bathroom medicine cabinet where anyone can find it.
5. Participate in regular safe medication disposal. Keeping unused, unwanted, or expired medication out of the house entirely will drastically limit the risks to kids. This month, the DEA’s Drug Take Back Day is on October 29th where people can safely dispose of their prescription pills. You can also find a list of our permanent local drop boxes in the Kansas City Northland here that are open year round.
Research shows that starting preventative education with early elementary school-aged children reduces chronic substance use in high school, and communication is an essential part of keeping our children healthy and safe. Thank you for taking the time to have these conversations and reinforce these medication safety practices.
– Parent Up KC Staff
For more medicine safety tips for your family, check out Scholastic’s Medicine Safety Newsletter.
– For talking tips for older kids and teens, read our local Parent Up KC Insight about fentanyl.
– For more information about fentanyl, read the warnings, tips and pictures about fentanyl straight from the DEA.
– Learn more about the DEA’s Take Back Day, held twice a year in April and October.