Safety reminders from Erie County Department of Health & Department of Senior Services
Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health
The holidays are a time for family, friends and festive gatherings. But they can also be a time for potential poisoning incidents involving medication – especially in children. That is why the Erie County Department of Health and the Department of Social Services are reminding parents and caregivers to make medication safety a priority during this holiday season.
Here are some safety tips to keep your family safe this upcoming holiday season:
√ All prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements should be stored securely, out of reach of children and pets. This includes pills, drops, liquids, creams and medications administered by injection.
√ Dispose of unused or expired medications at community kiosks – there are dozens in Erie County; see thepointny.org.
√ Anyone who has recently started taking a new drug should inform their family members about potential side effects if needed.
√ Do not share prescription medications with others. Take prescription medications only under the guidance of a doctor or health care provider.
√ Add the Poison Control number to your phone: 1-800-222-1222. Trained specialists answer these calls 24/7.
Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein and Commissioner of Senior Services Angela Marinucci are reinforcing these precautions for the holiday season.
Burstein said, "We want people to enjoy their time together, and we also want people to be aware of the potential dangers with having medications around young children and pets. We encourage people to take advantage of our community kiosks to drop off their unused or expired medications. This is a safe and easy way to dispose of medications and keep them out of the hands of those who should not have them.”
According to Upandaway.org, a national medication safety initiative, nearly one out of every four grandparents say they store prescription medicines in easily accessible spots.
Marinucci added, "Holidays and travel plans can disrupt routines. Everyone, especially older adults who may be taking several medications, needs to be mindful of where and how their medications are stored. If you need to take medication while you are away from home, be sure to pack it in a safe, child-proof container.”
The Upstate New York Poison Center handled nearly 32,500 unintentional medication error cases in 2021.
“Whether traveling or hosting visitors for the holidays, be sure to think about medication,” said Gail Banach, public education director at the Upstate New York Poison Center. “If traveling, ask for a safe location to store your medication when you arrive. For visitors, identify a safe location in your home for medication storage.”
She continued, “Also, children are curious. Help keep them safe by storing medicine and all poisons up and out of reach of little hands. Remember: Most poisonings are accidents; they are not meant to happen, but they do. The Upstate New York Poison Center is available 24/7/365, even during the holidays, at 1-800-222-1222.”
√ Upandaway.org: a CDC-backed campaign providing medication safety messages
√ Upstate NY Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222 or https://www.upstate.edu/poison/