Keep children safe around medicine

Every week, 500 children under the age of five are rushed to hospital due to swallowing something potentially poisonous. Darren Pittock examines some steps that can be taken to keep children safe around medication

Many of us have seen the viral videos of children covered in chocolate while being adamant they haven't had any. Children are naturally inquisitive and curious about the world around them, not to mention mischievous. However, this natural investigation becomes much less adorable if a child has accidentally consumed medication.

Accidental consumption

In the UK, 500 children under five are rushed to hospital every week because it's suspected that they have swallowed something poisonous.

By using clearly printed medicine cartons that are branded well when dispensing prescriptions, it is clear that medicine is medicine. It’s not a natural reaction to connect seeing a child with a plain white box as a potential risk.

However, if it is clearly printed as a prescription item, the medication will be taken from the child in an instant. You can also teach a child not to touch boxes that have specific logos.

Incorrect dosing

Oral syringes are designed to improve accuracy when dosing liquid medicine to children.

However many brands of syringes have marking that rub off over time, meaning each new dose becomes less accurate.

To counteract this, precision oral syringes have been designed in such a way that the marking are much more durable, meaning acculturate dosing time and time again.


Plastic bags are a well known risk of suffocation to children, whether the bag is from a supermarket, or from a hospital. A bag is a bag.

Valley Northern's range of resealable patient medicine bags have been designed with holes in the bottom for this exact reason. This means should the bag end up in little hands; suffocation is of a much lower risk.

The bags themselves are also clearly labelled up with dos and don'ts of medicine use, giving piece of mind to both parents and patients.

Expired medication

Expired medication is less effective and often unsafe, and its consumption often results from parents stockpiling medication for a rainy day.

All unused prescription medication should be returned to the pharmacist for safe disposal and over-the-counter medication should be bought as needed. This keeps unneeded medication out of the house and means expired medication isn't used accidently.

Pharmacists can also increase clarity by applying expiry date labels to bags and cartons to make this date highly visible to parents.

Valley Northern's extensive label range ensures a label for almost every purpose. If there are specific labels required, they also offer a bespoke label printing service.

Incorrect storage

As with all medicine, if a child's medicine is not stored properly, it may not work in the way they were intended or even put a child at risk. This responsibility extends past pharmacy storage and into the child’s home.

Temperature is one of the most important factors that can affect the stability of a medicine. Pharmacists can use pharmacy labels that clearly highlight whether something should be kept in the fridge or at an ambient temperature.

The inquisitive nature of children is not to be discouraged, it's how they learn.

But there are clear and simple changes that can be made by pharmacists to protect children from the dangers of medication around the home.

Darren Pittock is sales executive  with pharmacy supplier, Valley Northern

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