When most of us think of poisons, we tend to envision items that aren’t intended for human consumption, like paint thinner or household cleaning solutions. But the misuse of medicines can be just as dangerous, especially among young children and tweens. That’s why, National Poison Prevention Week, observed March 15-21, presents an ideal opportunity to educate kids about medicine safety.
When taken as directed, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are safe. But when taken incorrectly, they can be just as dangerous as when prescription medicines are not used as prescribed. In fact, in 2011, poison control centers managed over 140,000 cases of medicine poison exposures involving children ages 6 to 19. According to the CDC, poisoning is the No. 1 cause of injury death in the U.S., with most of these deaths due to drug and medicine misuse and abuse.
Coalitions are the perfect vehicle to deliver medicine safety messages to young people in the community. To help in that effort, CADCA developed the Medicine Safety Utility Guide. This free resource is intended to help community leaders integrate OTC medicine safety into their work. The publication highlights the OTC Literacy curriculum, developed by Scholastic and the American Association of Poison Control Centers in partnership with McNeil Consumer Healthcare. The curriculum, aimed at 5th and 6th graders, raises awareness about the safe use of OTC medicines and provides resources to better equip educators, school nurses and parents with knowledge about responsible OTC medicine use and storage. In 2014, a new section was added to the curriculum aimed at community leaders.
CADCA’s Utility Guide highlights key components of the OTC Literacy curriculum; provides steps to help you plan and implement medicine safety strategies; and offers tools to help you promote OTC safe use messages in your community.