Putting child safe medicine caps to the test



Bio | Email


Posted on November 14, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 14 at 12:21 PM

Safety caps on medicines are supposed to keep kids out.

But these so-called child safe medicine bottles were no match for a class of kindergartners.

Their parents gave permission, and the bottles were empty.

One boy opened his in just 12 seconds.

"I just kept turning it like this, and it just came right undone," he said.

"In Washington, 45 percent of kids who are poisoned are poisoned by medications," said Dr. Suzan Mazor of Seattle Children's Hospital.

Dr. Mazor, a toxicologist, sees her share of those kids as an emergency department physician at Seattle Children's.

She says child resistant caps are designed, by law, to keep most kids out, but to be easy for most adults to open.

"I think parents probably think because they're child resistant that they're child proof and child resistant is not the same as child proof," said Dr. Mazor.

One potent narcotic might not always come in a child resistant bottle. Patients with arthritis can request alternate packaging.

"We love visiting grandparents but a lot of time we do see kids, little toddlers, who get into either grandma's pill box or their medicine somehow," said Dr. Mazor.

Experts say lock up medicines, keep them out of sight, throw out old medications and don't tell a child medicine is candy. 

Dr. Mazor says one of the worst offenders for poisonings is sold over the counter.

"Only 10 tablets of iron can be toxic to a toddler. So, much more than that is packaged in these types of bottles," said Dr. Mazor.

Hard-to-open blister packs are a safer bet.

In the experiment a third of the kindergartners got the caps off. The average time was less than a minute.

It's safest to keep medicines in their original containers. If you ever need to call poison control, they'll need the label information.