07/03/2019 12:57 EDT

Grandparents Aren't Storing Medication Safely, And It Puts Kids At Risk: Poll

A staggering number of grandparents are unknowingly risking accidental poisoning.

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About 40 per cent of accidental ingestions involve medications belonging to a grandparent, according to new research.

There’s honestly nothing better than grandparents.

They love our kids and often have special, unique relationships with them. They’re always there with a hug or a supportive phone call, or to feed them sugary treats right before bedtime. They babysit, bless.

But, as people of a certain age, they may also take a lot of medications. And, a new U.S. poll shows that most grandparents aren’t taking any extra precautions to keep those pills from getting into little hands.

More than 80 per cent of grandparents keep their medications in the same place as usual when their grandkids visit them, and 72 per cent keep them in their bag when they visit the kids, according to findings from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging.

This puts kids at risk, as medications are the leading cause of poisoning in children, according to injury prevention charity Parachute Canada.

WATCH: How to avoid kids getting into medications. Story continues below.

The poll asked more than 2,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 80 about caring for their grandchildren.

Of the 54 per cent who identified as grandparents, two-thirds say they provide regular care to their grandkids, and 86 per cent said their grandkids visit their homes (Again, bless).

But nearly all of them (97 per cent) said they had some kind of medication in their homes — a pretty even split of over-the-counter meds, prescription pills, and vitamins. And, almost one-third reported they keep their medications in easy-open containers.

“While this time spent together can be beneficial for both grandparents and grandchildren, these visits may also present safety concerns,” the authors said in their report.

In about 40 per cent of cases where kids visit an emergency department for consuming medications, the medications belong to a grandparent, they added.

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Grandparents are the best. But many aren't storing their medications safely, according to a new poll.

Even small amounts of adult medication can be fatal to a child, Pamela Fuselli, Vice President at Parachute Canada, previously told HuffPost Canada.

In Canada, there are about three deaths per year in children aged 14 and younger from unintentional poisoning (which includes other household products such as cleaners), according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Another 900 are hospitalized with serious injuries. In 2017, about 52,000 kids were seen in emergency rooms for medication poisonings, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. 

Parents aren’t storing medication properly, either. Or weed.

Parents, don’t go thinking you’re off the hook. Nearly 70 per cent of parents with children under the age of six say that they often store medication within a child’s sight, such as on a shelf, Safe Kids Worldwide said in a 2017 report.

Half of the parents surveyed said that it’s OK to keep medication out for convenience when a child is sick. 

And it’s not just meds: accidental marijuana ingestion is a huge problem, too. The Canadian Paediatric Society notes that “a significant number of young children” needed medical care after ingesting cannabis around the time that weed became legal in Canada, the Canadian Press reports.

 WATCH: Kid accidentally brings edibles to school. Story continues below.


So, basically, we could all be doing a much better job.

How to store medication safely around kids

Remember these three words: up, away, locked.

“Place all medications in a locked box and put it in a place that is high up and out of your child’s reach,” Fuselli previously told HuffPost Canada.

Keep medications in their original, child-resistant packing, Parachute notes on its website. Never refer to medication as “candy,” even chewable vitamins. And keep purses and bags from visitors out of reach.

Store all cannabis products the same way as medications, Parachute adds: locked up, and out of reach.