Candy Or Medicine? Safe Medicine Storage

candy or medicine

Image c/o Strong Health

The role parents play in poison prevention is paramount. The above image shows just how easy it is to confuse medicine with candy. Especially if we message this improperly. When my boys were young I started calling liquid medicines “yum-yums” in an effort to get them to take acetaminophen or other medicine easily only to realize as I was doing it I was advertising the wrong thing…totally novice move as a mom and pediatrician. Clearly as parents we’re always a work in progress.

Safe medicine storage is one of those obvious things we feel we have under control. But numbers for accidental ingestion in the US prove we don’t. Young children are earnestly dependent on us doing this better.

Check out the above image — the packaging of medication earnestly isn’t any different to most of us than the packaging for candy. Imagine a 3 year-old trying to differentiate between the two in a moment of discovery. Pretty easy to imagine a 4 year-old stumbling upon a skittle and seriously impossible to imagine them over-riding their curiosity to explore/enjoy with their mouth. Chances are, that medication/skittle is going into their mouth.

Medication storage isn’t just for your typical over-the-counter (OTC) medications. With our households changing and many people coming though them, we have to think about prescription medications, liquid nicotine, marijuana and household products that all need to be up and out of reach. To that end, safe medicine storage is an important part of family and household safety. This week is National Poison Prevention Week so the perfect time to perfect our homes a little more. This includes any home your child plays in or stays in.

Facts & Stats:

  • Approximately 60,000 kids go to the ER every year due to accidental medicine ingestion (this equals 4 school bus loads of kids every day). So even though this advice feels boring and obvious will you consider forwarding this along?
  • According to a recent SafeKids report, half of the 2 million calls to poison control centers in 2011 were for exposures and ingestion among kids 5 and under.
  • 95% of accidental medicine poisoning among children happen when parents and care takers are not looking. So often we’re around the house just not in arm’s reach. But the medicine is.

What Parents Need To Know:

  • Parents must teach their children what medicine is and that only you or a caregiver should give it to them. Although this is a safeguard, especially for older children, we have to remember that young children will always be led by their curiosity.
  • Never tell them that medicines (including vitamins) are candy, even if they don’t like to take it. Medicine is medicine — we can advertise it’s benefit but really can’t confuse or inflate it to that of candy. Our children inherently want to mimic our behaviors (at least while they are young! :-))so we have to stay away from advertising meds as candy.
  • Set aside time this week to double-check that your medicines are stored safely up, away and out of sight of kids. When you check in on the medicines in your home, check in to make sure the dosing device is attached (even with a rubber band) to the medicine.
  • This isn’t just an important issue for when you are home but it matters when you are traveling, with medicines in your suitcase or purse, it matters when you stay with friends or families, especially Grandparents.
  • Check out Up & Away for more information and tips.
  • Program the Poison Control Centers’ this number into your phone: (800-222-1222). Post it on your fridge.



5-13 know your OTCsThis post was written in partnership with In exchange for our ongoing partnership helping families understand how to use OTC (over-the-counter) meds safely they have made a contribution to Digital Health at Seattle Children’s for our work in innovation. I adore the OTC Safety tagline, “Treat yourself and your family with care all year long.” Follow @KnowYourOTCs  #KnowYourOTCs for more info on health and wellness.

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One Comment to “Candy Or Medicine? Safe Medicine Storage”

  1. Peter Elias says:

    And don’t have a ritual of taking your own legitimate medications in full view of your young children.