Keeping Kids Safe: Proper drug storage in the home (tips on preventing access)

Home is Your Child’s First Playground
Essential Drug-Proofing Steps to Keep It Safe

a new baby into your home is an exciting time. After months of
anticipation, planning and dreaming, you suddenly find yourself at
home, with total responsibility for another human being. And you
often wonder if you’ve thought of everything to keep your child
safe. As a pharmacist and a mom, I encourage you to do something that
often slips new parents’ minds: drug-proof your home. I have some
simple steps to take and habits to develop now to help prevent an
accident later on. Time passes quickly – before you know it, your
baby’s crawling everywhere or has morphed into a curious toddler
climbing places you never even considered possible.

me share a personal – and painful – story. As a pharmacist I
routinely gave customers the standard advice to “keep medicine out
of reach and use child-proof caps.” When I became a mother, I
quickly realized these steps are not good enough. This advice did not
address how easy it is for children to find medicine through normal
exploration. You see, I thought we had our medicine stored securely.
But after my own daughter, at age two, climbed to the top of a
counter, opened a child proof cap and drank an entire bottle of
children’s ibuprofen, I realized I was living under a false sense
of security. Fortunately, the drug she chose to drink was a
relatively safe medicine; however, right next to it was one that
wasn’t. We were incredibly lucky.

it seems impossible to keep something out of a determined child’s
reach. Studies show that nearly all children, ages 1-5, who present
to emergency departments for medication overdoses, took the medicine
when no one was watching. They were left alone for just a moment, or
the adults were socializing, not paying as close attention, or
perhaps weren’t concerned since they were up high and/or in
child-resistant containers.

good news is it is easy to take steps
to set your kids up for success and make it difficult for an overdose
to take place.
are five simple steps to help prevent an accident later:

1: Explore your home from your child’s viewpoint and search for
unsecured medicine, as well as, means by which your child can access

must get down on your hands and knees (yes, I’m serious) and
pretend you’re a crawling infant or climbing toddler. Look for
places that could potentially become an exciting toy chest. Purses
left on floors frequently contain medicine – often in non-child
resistant containers. Low drawers often contain “forgotten” items
because they’re inconvenient to use regularly. Clean them out and
remove any medicine, even items you wouldn’t necessarily think of
as potentially dangerous.

particular attention to bathroom and bedside drawers.

bookcases and cabinets often turn into stairs, allowing little ones
to reach things just out of their grasps or to explore items
mistakenly believed to be out of their reach. Develop a habit of
scanning to ensure all drawers are closed. Maybe even consider
installing drawer locks, as a further deterrent.

and step-stools take on a new meaning and are often used in
combination to get where they want to go. My 2-year-old daughter
pushed a chair to our kitchen counter, hauled a step-stool onto the
countertop, opened a door and grabbed a bottle of on top shelf (in
the time it took to fold a load of towels).

are quite attractive. Never discard medicine in the trash inside your
home. Even used patches can contain enough medicine to harm your
child if put in their mouths.

2: Use child-resistant caps on your medicine

child-resistant caps, however,
rely on
them to keep your child away from what’s inside: child-resistant
does not mean it’s childproof. Most children can eventually open a
child-resistant cap, often in less than a minute. Consider their
purpose to be to potentially deter your child long enough for them to
get caught in the act.

be certain to actually close the lid properly after each use. A
partially closed child-resistant lid offers no more deterrence than a
non-child-resistant one.

3: Clean out your medicine regularly

recurring times at least once a year to clear your home of all
medicine expired, or for one reason or the other you know you’ll
never use. Keeping these medicines on-hand means they are still
available for an accident to happen. The less medicine in your home,
the safer it is for your children.

4: Find a home for your medicine and lock it up

a cabinet or closet as your go-to spot, install a lock and use it.
Easy access for you often means easy access for your children.

of the popular plastic cabinet locks. They are often not tightened
securely due to frustration using them, plus, children often watch
parent’s movements carefully and soon learn how to mimic and open
them themselves.

live in a world where accidentally swallowing very small amounts of
some medicines literally could cost your child their life. It’s
often surprising to know that it’s not just prescription medicine –
it’s also over-the-counter medicine, and even ointments. I strongly
advocate treating all medicine as potentially deadly and locking them
all up securely so you don’t have to keep up with, or investigate,
each drug. You simply develop the habit of “this is just what we do
with our medicine in our home.”

5: Post Poison Control’s number – 1-800-222-1222 – in an
easy-to-find location and don’t hesitate to use it!

you can’t possibly watch your child every single second, it’s
crucial to take steps to lessen the chance of an accidental drug
that even the most thorough drug-proofing will not make your medicine
100% childproof. Nothing replaces adult supervision and consistent
habits. My goal is to help give you a safety net for those times when
you turn your back – just for a moment.


the Author:

Ballard, RPh, aka the PharMomAssist, is a veteran pharmacist and
mother of four daughters dedicated to drug safety and children’s
health. Her passion for helping families drug-proof their homes was
ignited in 2004 when her 2-year-old daughter ingested medicine the
family thought was safely stored. Susanne is also a wife, teacher,
entrepreneur, artist, and president and CEO of Bella Life Endeavors,
Inc. Learn more at

This is a guest post!!


  1. Alan (Omega Doom)
    July 15, 2011 / 4:43 am

    Great tips! I don't have kids of my own, but I am willing to share the tips I've learned from you with my coworkers who do have young kids of their own. I am so surprised by your 2 year olds ingenuity. I'm glad she wasn't seriously harmed. Thank you Susanne and Katie!

  2. Susanne Ballard
    July 22, 2011 / 2:27 pm

    Alan,I thought I had a pretty good grasp on kids, then I had my own and have been pleasantly surprised (and, alternatively terrified) at how SMART and clever they can be at such young ages. So, I try to prepare for the worst and expect the best and never underestimate their ability to surprise (or amaze) me. Thank you for sharing these tips!

  3. Chris
    August 10, 2011 / 3:08 am

    Parents must always make sure that medicines are kept in places inaccessible to their kids to avoid possible risks. Your tips are all pharmacy no prescription

  4. Chris
    August 15, 2011 / 8:40 am

    Wonderful tips in storing your medicines. Now, your readers will not have any difficulties in preventing their children from having access to these pharmacy no prescription

  5. herbal products
    October 27, 2011 / 8:27 am

    There should be an allocated medicine cabinet placed in areas where children can't reach. This avoids potential problem in misusing the drugs.

  6. document storage
    January 16, 2012 / 9:47 am

    There are medicine bottles that are child-proof. If you reuse this kind of bottles and put your medicine here, it will be a great help.

  7. Laura Lane
    November 7, 2012 / 2:01 am

    I'm not as careful with older kids.

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