MIDWEST CITY, Okla. — Small children are curious adventure seekers and into everything. That includes prying open those “child proof” pill bottles and accidentally swallowing medications.
Oklahoma Poison Control Supervisor, Steve Schaeffer said, “We’ve made a big mistake referring to these bottles as child proof.”
These scenarios play out every eight seconds across the country. EMSA medics race to medicine overdose calls frequently, especially in the summer months when children are out of school.
EMSA Medic, Jim Winham said, “They look like candy. Sometimes they taste like candy orange flavored aspirin. Understandably it`s a very serious problem.”
We assembled a dozen preschoolers from Good Shepard Child Development Center in Midwest City. With permission from their teachers and parents, we challenged this group of three- to five-year-olds to remove the “safety caps” from cough syrup and pill bottles filled with harmless candy.
Seven out of 12 children in our test were successful removing those so-called child proof caps. No surprise to Oklahoma Poison Control, who receives 125 panicked phone calls every single day.
Schaeffer said, “Every time that phone rings, I’d be willing to bet it’s a parent of care giver of a two- or three-year-old child. Children can’t read a label. They don’t understand medicine can be dangerous. They go with what they know which is eating a piece of candy or mimicking their parents.”
We should mention, the children were all warned about the “real” dangers of messing with medication following our experiment.
Parents need to be vigilant. Keep medication in a locked cabinet and don’t take pills in front of children. A moment of caution can prevent that life-threatening trip to the emergency room.