Medicine Safety

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

When used properly, medicines (including prescription medications, over-the-counter preparations, vitamin pills and herbal supplements) help keep us and our children well. But what's more important is vigilance: giving the medicine at the right time at the right dose, avoiding interactions between drugs, watching out for tampering, and asking your child's doctor or the pharmacist about any concerns you may have.

Here are some tips on medicine safety:

  • Read and follow the label directions every time. Pay special attention to usage directions and warnings. If you notice any new symptoms or unexpected side effects in your child or the medicine doesn't appear to be working, talk to your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
  • Check for signs of tampering in any OTC product. The safety seal should be intact before opening. Do not purchase or use a medicine from a package that shows cuts, tears, slices or other imperfections.
  • Use only children's medicine for children. Do not give medicine intended for adults to children. Half an adult dose may be more than your child needs or not enough to help. Read and follow the label.
  • Keep medicine out of reach of children. Today's medicines are often flavored to hide the taste of the medicine, which is all the more reason to keep all drugs out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Never give two medicines at the same time before consulting with your child's doctor.
  • Never play doctor. Twice the recommended dose is not appropriate just because your child seems twice as sick as last time.
  • Do not refer to medicine as candy. Do not make a game of taking medicine.
  • Use child-resistant packaging. It deters children and has helped greatly to decrease the number of accidental deaths due to poisonings.
  • Make sure that you check the expiry date on the medicines. Clean out old medicines regularly and dispose of them carefully.
  • Keep medicine in their original containers. This helps to avoid confusion.
  • Do not tear away the label or throw away the instruction booklet that comes along with the medicine.
  • Children grow and increase in size and weight. Know your child's weight and read the label of all medicines before giving them to your child. Check each time the correct amount. Don't rely on your memory.
  • When giving any drug to a child, watch closely for side effects. Talk to your child's doctor if your child is showing any unusual reactions.
  • If your handbag contains medicines, make sure to keep your bag out of children's reach. Purses are a treasure bag for kids and result in a lot of medicine related poisonings.
  • Try to avoid taking tablets in front of your children. Children like to imitate - be sure they do not imitate using real medicine or look alike candy.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,