To get maximum benefit from a medication, it must be taken correctly:
- Follow the directions on the label
- Know when the medication should be taken (with or without food or water)
- Know how long to take the medication
Safety Tips for Medication
- Use child-resistant containers: Keep in mind they are not “childproof.” Child-resistant containers can slow down the time it takes a child to open the medicine bottle in the hope that the parent or caregiver will have more time to react.
- Keep all medicines in their original labeled containers: Poisonings tend to occur when medicine and other products are put in another container. When a poisoning does happen, knowing the exact product name and ingredients will help the Poison Center in providing you with the proper first aid steps.
- Store medicines out of sight and reach of children: Drug products, particularly nonprescription, are frequently kept in unlocked bathroom medicine cabinets and closets, left out on dressers and on counter-tops, and are carried in easily opened pocketbooks or suitcases. Put a lock or child-safety latch on cabinet drawers and doors. Most children over two years of age can climb and reach places you think are safe. Keep purses and other bags that may contain medicine out of reach; medicines kept in purses are a common source of poisoning for kids.
- Clean out the medicine cabinet regularly: Dispose of old medications appropriately and do not throw medicines in the garbage. Doing so could result in the poisoning of a child or animal. Limit access to decrease experimentation; many teenagers are poisoned while experimenting with drugs (illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter), alcohol, or household products and solvents. Check the Take Back Your Meds web site for a list of places that will take your unused medications.
- Call medicines what they are—medicine: Calling it candy can confuse a child with a craving for something sweet.
Mother & Child: Women who are pregnant or mothers who are breastfeeding should be aware that medicines that they ingest or apply to the skin might be transmitted to their children. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or the Washington Poison Center before taking any medicine
- Follow the directions on the medication label: Give the recommended dosage for age and body weight and the recommended time increments. If your doctor or pharmacist told you to take the medication differently than what the package lists, keep the prescribed directions with the package. Re-read the labels each time before you take or give any medicine: Be sure you have good lighting, and glasses if you need them. Learn how to read the label at the Be MedWise site. Pay attention to all cautions on the label: Call the Poison Center if you have any questions about the cautions, directions, or any possible side effects. Take the right dose: Reading the label incorrectly, or taking medicine in the dark can lead to taking the wrong medication. Taking a double dose to make up for one that was missed can result in an overdose.
- Be sure you are not taking alternative medicines that may cause a negative affect with your prescription medicine: View a list of alternative or complementary medicines to pay attention to.
- Avoid Mixing Medications: Many medications, if taken at the same time, can cause harmful reactions; for example, cold medications taken along with a sedative can cause drowsiness. Likewise, poisoning can also result from drinking alcoholic beverages while on medication. Medications have two names: the brand name and the generic name. Inform your pharmacist of all medications you take, including nonprescription medications, food supplements and herbal remedies.
- Grandparents should “medication-proof ” their homes prior to any child’s visit: Visiting Grandparents’ homes can result in an increased risk of children being poisoned.
- Avoid taking medicine in front of Children: If children see you taking medicine, they may imitate you when you are not in the room.
- Extra safeguards and supervision need to be taken when life is a bit more chaotic: Household moves, holidays, and family illness or death are likely times an accidental exposure to medicines will occur.