May 28, 2012

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

A little while ago, we had a contest at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy in which we asked people to submit how their Dauphin Clinic Pharmacist had made their life better. We got lots of great responses, but one stuck out for me. It said lots of nice things about the pharmacists and then said, and Trevor has a very cute dog. I do have a very cute dog. Her name is Mellie She is a small dog called Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She does lots of cute things like if there is a thunderstorm at night, she curls around my head like a puppy hat. She barks if you say the word, Shoe. She doesnt like tambourines playing in the background of a song on the radio. Mellie is a very good dog too. One Christmas when my daughter Emily was about 3, we had lots of us around the tree at Doriss parents place in Winnipeg. Adults and kids were opening presents, and talking when suddenly there was a loud, Yipe and much scurrying. Emily had reached into Mellies mouth and grabbed a fist full of puppy lip. If Emily had done that to me, I think I would have bit her. But Mellie didnt. Mellie just yiped and ran away. Mellie is getting older now and needs heart medication. Its Mellies heart medication that led me to almost poison my son Eric.


Poison Control Centers across Canada receive almost 70,000 calls each year involving children under the age of six. The most common cause of poisoning in children is medication. Childhood poisoning by medication can be prevented. What can you do to help protect your children? Lets start by where to put your medications.


All medications should be out of sight and locked up tight. This medication storage area should be a cool dark place. The medicine cabinet in your bathroom is actually a terrible place to store your medicines. All the heat and humidity in the bathroom will make your medications degrade faster. If you put your medicines in a locked cupboard which is too high for a 6 year old to reach, that would be ideal. The next thing to look at is the bottles the medications are in.


If you have children living in your house, or if grandchildren or other young souls visit your house, ask your pharmacy to package your medications in child resistant containers. These bottles will help keep children safe if they accidentally get a hold of a medication bottle. However, child resistant doesnt mean child proof. A child may still be able to break into the bottle and poison themselves with the contents. So your first line of defense is keeping the medication away from the child. The medication should still be locked tight and out of sight.


Keep medication in its original container. This way you know what pills are in the bottle and how to take them. Knowing which medication is in a bottle will help prevent you from poisoning children and adults. Dont use a medication if the label on it has become illegible.


Take medication with you if youre called away. This is where I failed as a parent. I was getting my dog Mellies heart medication ready for the week, and I got called away. My then three year old son Eric got a hold of Mellies pills. To this day I dont know if he took a pill or not. I assumed he did and called the companys medical information department. Thankfully, even if he did take the heart pill it wouldnt have harmed him. I found out afterwards, that in our province the Manitoba Poison Control Center can be reached by dialing 911 if you have a poisoning in your house. So, dont leave the container behind where your child could get a hold of it. Replace the lid and return the medication to its storage place after you use it. Never leave medication out in the open unattended even for a minute.


At the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy, we want to help protect your kids. The Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy is participating in a Medication Round-up. Between May 28 and June 1, 2012 we are encouraging you to bring unused and expired medications to the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy, Winnipegosis Clinic Pharmacy or the Ethelbert Community Health Resource Center. This includes prescription and non-prescription products. The less medication that is in your house, the less chance there is of a poisoning. We will make sure the medicine gets disposed of properly. Returning unused and expired medication to your pharmacy is the best way to dispose of it, because it is no longer considered safe to flush medications down the toilet.


So even if you have a good dog and good kids, bad things can happen if you arent careful around medications. So let us help you reduce the poisoning risk by getting those unused and expired medications out of your house.


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The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.


Health Canada Site:

Safe Kids Canada Site:

Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres :


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