Medication Safety in the Home

Every 10 minutes in the United States, there’s a child under the age of 6 taken to an emergency department for medication poisoning. Most of the incidents occur in the home, a CHOC pharmacist tells CHOC Radio.

In podcast No. 23, Dr. Shannon Bertagnoli offers tips to help prevent children from getting into medications:

  • where to store medicine;
  • what to do with visitors; and
  • how to take medication

She also offers online resources for caregivers interested in learning more.


CHOC Radio theme music by Pat Jacobs.


How to Build a Basic First Aid Kit at Home

iStock_000054492154MediumMost parents are bound to face a small “medical emergency” at home with their child at some point, whether it’s a nasty scrape, nosebleed or bug bite. Knowing what to do and having some supplies handy can make minor injuries easier to care for when they occur.

“Everybody should have a first aid kit. They also should have a card in their kit with their pediatrician’s phone number on it in case someone else is watching the child and needs to know who to call if needed. They can also call 9-1-1 for a severe emergency,” says Dr. Mary Jane Piroutek, an emergency department physician at CHOC Children’s.
To build your basic first aid kit, Dr. Piroutek shares a list of supplies to include:

  • Gauze or dressing
  • Antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, for bites, cuts, stings and scrapes. This will help keep wounds lubricated and prevent infection.
  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic spray to help clean the wound.
  •  Tweezers to remove splinters. To remove a stinger that is still in a puncture wound, use something firm like a credit card to swipe it away.
  •  Non-latex gloves to keep hands clean.
  • Antihistamines for minor bites or allergic reactions (* talk to a medical professional for giving antihistamines to a child under the age of two)
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen – not aspirin – for pain.
  • A water bottle in case you are somewhere that lacks clean water and you need to wash a cut.

More safety tips:

Tips to Protect Your Child from Eye Injuries

Bet you didn’t know October is Eye Injury Prevention Month? While most children’s eye injuries are minor, others, like those that often occur in sports and recreational activities, can be serious and require medical attention.

Check out the following tips to protect children’s eyes from injury:
• Keep all chemicals and sprays out of reach of small children.
• Only purchase age-appropriate toys.
• Avoid projectile toys such as darts.
• Along with sports equipment, provide your children with the appropriate protective eyewear.
• Ensure there are no sharp corners on the edges of furnishings and home fixtures.
• Provide appropriate lights and handrails to improve safety on stairs in the home.
• Beware of items in playgrounds that pose potential eye hazards.
• Remind your children not to play or run with sharp objects such as scissors, a fork or pencil.

Should your child suffer an eye injury, keep these guidelines in mind.

If you think your child has small debris in the eye or a minor irritation, be sure to:
• Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the eye area.
• Tilt the child’s head over a basin or sink with the affected eye pointed down.
• Gently pull down the lower lid.
• Gently pour a steady stream of lukewarm water over the eye.
• Flush the eye for up to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to see if the foreign body has been flushed out.

Seek medical care if your child has:
(Even if the injury seems minor at first, as a serious injury is not always immediately obvious)
• been struck or poked in the eye with a ball or other object
• a swollen, red, or painful area around the eye or eyelid
• an eye that’s very sensitive to light

Seek emergency medical care if your child has:
• trouble seeing
• been exposed to chemicals
• something embedded in the eye
• severe eye pain
• blood in the eye
• nausea or vomiting after an eye injury

While seeking medical help, remind your child not to rub his or her eyes. A cut or puncture wound should be gently covered. Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.

More articles about protecting children’s eyes and vision:

  • Eye Infections in Kids
    Pink eye isn’t the only eye problem found in babies and children that parents should be aware of, a CHOC Children’s infectious disease specialist says. Here are some other eye ...
  • Tips to Make Eye Drops Easier for Kids – and Parents
    Administering eye drops to small children can be difficult for parents and kids alike – and rest assured, it isn’t always easy for doctors, either. “It’s daunting at times for parents ...
  • Protect Your Child’s Vision
    An eye injury can occur at any time, in any place. Adequate prevention is important because most eye injuries can be prevented. Almost half of all eye injuries occur in sports ...


National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Oct. 26 – Do Your Part in Helping Kids Prevent Abusing Household Medications

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication abuse continues to be one of the fastest-growing problems among teens and young adults. This includes kids who would never dream of using illegal drugs. One reason is the easy availability of these medications. Most of them are free and accessible from the medicine cabinets of friends, family, or even their own home.

Check out these tips to help you and your family take charge of medications in your home, including a list of local sites where you can drop off unwanted medications on Oct. 26:

• Talk to your teen about prescription and OTC drug abuse. Be sure your teen understands that buying or using prescription medication without a doctor’s order is dangerous — and illegal. A warm, open conversation – where kids are encouraged to talk about their feelings and their self-esteem is bolstered – encourages kids to come forward with questions and concerns.

• Take charge of all medications. Keep your family’s medications in a secure location. Set clear rules about taking the correct dosage at the right time. Ask friends and family to keep their prescription and OTC medications in a safe place, too.

• Explain the purpose of each prescribed or OTC medication, including possible side effects. Keep in mind that although you may not have prescription medications in your home, your child’s friend or family may. The most commonly used prescription drugs fall into three categories – Opioids (Examples: Vicodin, Demerol); Central Nervous System Depressants (Valium, Xanax); Stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall). Stress that it is both illegal and extremely dangerous to share any kind of medications.

• Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to drugs, alcohol and medications.

 • Check with your teen’s school. Are they including prescription and OTC medications when teaching about substance abuse?

• Discard all old and unneeded medications. Mix discarded medications with either used coffee grounds or kitty litter, add hot water, then place in the garbage. Never flush them.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is holding a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, on Sat., Oct. 26, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This free and anonymous service will give the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, and unwanted prescription drugs. For more information, call 714-647-4133. Below is a list of collection sites:

• Aliso Viejo:  OCSD South Sub-Station, 11 Journey Aliso Viejo, Calif., 92656
• Laguna Hills:  Laguna Hills City Hall, 24035 El Toro Rd. Laguna Hills, Calif., 92653
• Laguna Niguel:  Laguna Niguel City Hall, 30111 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, Calif., 92677
• Lake Forest: City Hall, 25550 Commercentre, Lake Forest, Calif., 92630
• Mission Viejo:  Mission Viejo City Hall, 200 Civic Center, Mission Viejo, Calif., 92691
• Orange: City of Orange Civic Center Parking Lot, at Almond Avenue and Center Street (across from St. John’s Lutheran Church)
• Rossmoor:  Rush Park, 3021 Blume Drive, Rossmoor, Calif., 90720
• San Clemente:  San Clemente Police Services, 100 Ave. Presidio, San Clemente, Calif., 92672
• San Juan Capistrano: San Juan Capistrano City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 92675
• Yorba Linda: Yorba Linda Community Center, 4501 Casa Loma Ave., Yorba Linda, Calif., 92886

Related articles:

Injuries Related to Inflatable Bouncers on the Rise

Image courtesy of
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the use of inflatable bouncers, such as bounce houses and moonwalks, has increased in recent years, and so have injury rates.

A recent study found that from 1990 to 2010, more than 64,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments for inflatable bouncer-related injuries. The authors also noted that from 2008 to 2010, the number of pediatric inflatable bouncer-related injuries more than doubled to an average of 31 children injured per day.

Fractures and strains or sprains of the arms or legs were the most common types of injury, and falls were a common cause of injury, with stunts and collisions also contributing to the injury rate. The authors state that the study underscores the need for guidelines for safer bouncer usage and improvement in bouncer design to prevent injuries.

Adult supervision is always key, and in most cases ensuring that the setup, equipment, and playground surface is safe, for this or any outdoor games, may lessen the risk of injury.

For more on this study,  visit the AAP website.

Related articles: