Medicine Safety: Your Questions Answered

Open purse

Here are some questions we frequently receive about medicine safety that can help keep your family safe.

Question 1: What exactly do you mean when you say to keep medicine “up and away”?

Up and AwayAnswer: Keeping medicine “up and away” means keeping medicine in a location where a child can’t reach it or see it. Kids are naturally curious and can easily get into things, like medicine, if they are kept in places within their reach. Consider all the places where you keep medicine in your home and determine whether it is in a safe place. If you keep medicine in a purse or diaper bag, for example, be sure to hang them up high on a hook, so it’s out of reach of your child. If you keep medicine on a nightstand or kitchen counter, move it to a higher location, like a cabinet at or above counter height.

Question 2: When is it time to move medicine up and away to keep my child safe?  

Answer: We recommend adding medicine safety to your child-proofing checklist along with installing safety gates and cabinet locks, anchoring furniture and mounting TVs and keeping poisonous products out of children’s reach. As you create a safer home environment where your child will grow and explore, it’s important to make changes in your home in anticipation of what your child might learn next, rather than what your child is doing right now. As your child learns new skills and starts to walk and climb, keep in mind that you may need to change where you keep medicine.

Question 3: I’ve always stored some medicine in the bathroom cabinet or closet, but where should I keep the medicine I take more regularly?

Answer: Our latest research shows that while many parents know to store their medicine out of reach of children, they often keep other medicine, such pain-relievers and antibiotics, in convenient locations such as in purses and on nightstands or counters. These convenient locations tend to be places where children often get into medicine. It is important to put all medicine and vitamins in cabinets at or above counter height, even if you take them every day or need to take another dose in a few hours. Keep all bags or briefcases that contain medicine on high shelves or hang them on hooks where your child can’t reach them.

Question 4: If medicine is kept in a child-resistant container, should I still be concerned about my child getting into it?

Answer: Keeping medicine in a child-resistant container is important, but child resistant does not mean child-proof. With a little time and persistence, some children may still be able to get into child-resistant containers. It’s important to close your medicine caps tightly after each use, choose child-resistant packaging whenever possible and store them out of children’s reach. If you are using pill boxes or other containers that are not child-resistant, it’s even more important to store these out of children’s reach and sight.

Question 5: I keep medicine up and away at home, but sometimes my child stays with his grand-parents. What’s the best way to make sure he’s safe while in their care?

Answer: One of the most important things you can do is to make sure your child’s caregivers (and you!) have the Poison Help number saved in their phones and posted visibly at home: 1-800-222-1222. Share medicine safety information with family and friends and remind them to keep all medicine and vitamins out of children’s reach and sight, even medicine they take every day.

More information about medicine safety

More tips for families can be found in the medicine safety checklisttip card and the safety tip section.