Children are curious and love to get their hands on new things to play with – and sometimes they’ll put these new things in their mouths. No one expects their child to ingest something harmful, but unfortunately, it can and does happen. When improperly stored medications end up in children’s mouths, it can lead to poisoning. In Alberta, an average of 57 children between the ages of 1 and 4 are hospitalized for serious poisonings each year. In the province, 78% of poisonings among children under age six were because of prescription or over-the-counter medication.

For this year’s National Poison Prevention Week, March 20 -26, the Injury Prevention Centre (IPC), the Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS), the Alberta Poison Prevention Working group and The Community Against Preventable Injuries are reminding parents and caregivers about how to keep their children safe from medications.

“Proper storage of both prescription and over-the-counter medications in our homes is important. Medication should be stored in a locked container and kept out of sight,” says Patti Stark, campaign coordinator with IPC. “Children love to copy the actions of adults so it’s important that when we have to take our medications, we do it away from children.” The campaign also reminds parents that guests sometimes bring medications into the home. Placing their bags, coats and purses out of reach can help keep curious children safe.

During the campaign, pharmacies and community injury prevention partners will be providing information to parents. Participating pharmacies will be using prescription bags with the message, “Before leaving medication where a child can reach it, have a word with yourself.” These bags will serve to remind parents to think about medication storage. Other community campaign activities will include presentations for parent groups, displays, and home visits.

Learn more about the campaign and preventing medication poisoning in children by visiting http://injurypreventioncentre.ca/programs/poison_prevention