Testimony of a Two-Year-Old
According to the family historian, I was not to be trusted.
At age two, I had been left alone for about a minute when I was discovered sitting in my parents' bedroom with a bottle of aspirin -- cap off, bottle upended, contents strewn about. (Clever girl!)
But instead of the anticipated expression of delight at my amazing accomplishment, my mother’s expression was quite the opposite. "Did you eat any of those?" she demanded, her face registering horror.
Well, any two-year-old who has been paying attention knows the answer to that question should be, "No," accompanied by an innocent expression, reinforced with a shake of the head for emphasis. But any mom who has been paying attention wouldn't buy that answer, so I was whisked to the doctor to have my stomach pumped.
According to the family historian, I didn't like it.
Fortunately, today's two-year-olds find it harder to get into a bottle of aspirin thanks to child-resistant packaging. And, over the past fifty years, the life-saving work of Poison Control Centers has also helped to dramatically reduce the number of fatalities among children who accidentally swallow medicine when a caregiver is not looking.
But here's a rather shocking trend. In 1979, one-third of all poisoning deaths among children in the U.S. were due to medications. Today, that number is more than half of all poisoning deaths. Why?
Perhaps the biggest reason is the proliferation of medicines in households today, increasing the opportunities for curious kids to get into danger. In 2013, more than 59,000 children were sent to the emergency room because of an unintended exposure to medicine. That’s one every nine minutes. And every one of those trips had the potential to be avoided.
Here are four situations where kids get into medicine, even under the watch of diligent parents.
- When someone in the family is sick, the medicine is pulled from the place where it is safely stored, and instead, kept handy. “Handy” is good for convenience, but too tempting for curious little ones who will get into it if they can reach it.
- Daily vitamins are kept on the counter as a helpful reminder, instead of out of reach.
- Medicine is kept in purses for on-the-go convenience. Kids love to explore the contents of purses, so it’s especially important to store them up and away.
- Pill boxes, those daily pill counters, are convenient for those of us who take medicine every day, but they’re a cinch for kids to get into if they are left within reach.
Do any of these situations ring true for you? Check out Safe Kids Worldwide’s new infographic about keeping kids safe around medicine.
My family teases me that I was destined to work at Safe Kids Worldwide from the time I was two. I don't remember having my stomach pumped, but perhaps that's why today, deep in my gut, I feel driven to tell parents how to protect kids from preventable injuries. Visit Safe Kids often to learn what you need to know to keep your kids safe.
One last thing, just to set the record straight. According to the family historian, the stomach pumping revealed I was telling the truth.
*2014 emergency room visits; of the 26 percent of cases where details were reported.