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Why Medication Safety Is So Important This Holiday Season

Woman taking pill with granddaughter

FOR RELEASE: December 20, 2021

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – While some things are getting back to a more normal way of life, one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of medication safety. Each year around 50,000 young children are rushed to an emergency room because they got into medicines that were left within reach. In 2021, the Upstate New York Poison Center handled nearly 29,000 cases for an unintentional medication error across all age groups with nearly 16,000 of these cases in children less than 6 years old. These statistics highlight the importance of safe medication use and storage, especially if young children are around.

All medication (including prescription and non-prescription) should be kept up and out of reach of children and consider storing your medicines in a medication lock box as an additional safety measure. One can be purchased easily online or in many pharmacies.

“We certainly know that even one pill can cause serious harm or even death in a child,” says Jeanna Marraffa, assistant clinical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center, “Medication lock boxes can be relatively inexpensive and can serve as a barrier to a child accessing your medication. In addition, please keep medication up and out of reach of kids to help prevent an unintentional poisoning.”

Hear directly from Dr. Marraffa on why medication safety should be at the top of your holiday wish list this year in our newest video: https://bit.ly/3yAwOpn

Since many families are just getting back to gathering due to COVID-19, we encourage you to read through these tips as a refresher to keep your home safe from a poisoning:

  • It is important to give your child the right amount of medicine at the right time. Keep suitcases and purses out of reach of children and pets. Designate a safe space for coats, purses, and bags.
  • Always read and follow the label directions.
  • Never use a kitchen spoon to give medicine. They come in many sizes and will not measure the exact dose of medicine.
  • Don’t leave tobacco products like cigarettes or vape pens in view of children. Even a small amount of vape juice can be toxic to a child. Just one cigarette (or butt) swallowed by a child could mean a trip to an ER.
  • Be sure to put medicine in a safe location immediately after each and every use. Consider using a locked medicine box or pouch.
  • Save our number and call for any medication questions. For example: Can I take these two medicines together? How much is too much? I think I took too much for my medications, what should I do?

In the case of a poisoning or for information purposes, call the Upstate New York Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. We are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Each year our center manages more than 50,000 calls from health care providers, 911 operators, hospitals, industry, schools, and the general public in our 54-county service area.

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About Upstate New York Poison Center

Housed inside Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, the Upstate New York Poison Center is dedicated to reducing the number, cost and severity of poisonings within its designated 54-county service area as mandated by New York State Law. The Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to both health professionals and the general public at 1-800-222-1222.

About Upstate Medical University

SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, is the only academic medical center in Central New York. It is also the region's largest employer with 9,460 employees. Affiliated with the State University of New York, Upstate's mission is to improve the health of the community through education, biomedical research and health care.