It’s the first day of spring and it’s a good day to clean out your medicine cabinet! When you learn that just 1 in 5 Americans locks up prescription drugs, it’s not surprising to hear that thousands of children are treated for accidental medication overdoses each year.
A new Consumer Reports survey of more than 1,000 adults also found that more than one-quarter of Americans hang on to unused drugs “until they’re used up.” This ups the odds for misuse, too.
“People may not realize how dangerous certain medications can be for a child,” said Lisa Gill, deputy editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.
“Pills within easy reach can be as dangerous as a loaded gun, particularly narcotic painkillers, such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin,” she said.
The bottom line: “If you have these pills at home, and you have children around, we urge you to lock them up,” Gill said.
The magazine staff also recommends cleaning out your medicine cabinet once a year to reduce the risk of medication misuse.
The magazine suggests that the first day of spring — Monday, March 20 — is the perfect day to start this cleaning process, dubbing it, “National Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Day.”
Don’t assume that prescription drugs such as sedatives and opioid painkillers are the only drugs on your bathroom shelves that can potentially cause harm.
“Acetaminophen, used as a fever and pain-reducer and found in Tylenol and hundreds of other products, is the most common accidentally ingested [over-the-counter drug],” Gill said.
A child who takes too much acetaminophen can develop liver damage or liver failure, she noted.