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Poison Safety & Medications

No matter where you are in the United States, if you are having an emergency related to drugs or poisoning, you can dial (800) 222-1222 and you will be connected to the local poison and drug information center. Be sure to post the poison control number near your home phone and save it in your cell phone.

Safety Basics

Tips for medication safety:

  • Buy medicines with child-guard caps if you have young children in the house. Remember that they are child resistant and not "child proof" - children may still be able to open them.
  • Don’t mix pills in a bottle.
  • Don’t share your medicine with anyone.
  • Follow the directions when you take or give medicine. If you don't understand the directions ask your pharmacist or poison center for help.
  • Keep track of what you take. Have a method to know when you have taken a medicine.
  • Never keep prescription medication and cough and cold medicine in a place where teens can get to it.
  • Remember to check who the medicine is for, how much should be taken, at what times of day and how often.
  • Talk to and listen to your doctor about the medicine you are taking - what is it for and when to take it.
  • When administering medications, use a dropper or medicine spoon, not a kitchen spoon.


  • All medication should be stored out of reach and even locked up to make sure that a child cannot get to them.
  • Don't take medications in front of young children. They like to copy what you do.
  • Give medication only to the child who has their name on the bottle. Do not save medication for the next time or for other children. 
  • Have the drug store fill your prescriptions in child resistant bottles. Remember that they are child resistant and not "child proof" - children may still be able to open them.
  • If someone comes to visit remind them not to leave medication out.
  • Measure all medication carefully, do not use a regular teaspoon. Follow the directions on the label.
  • Over-the-counter medications (cold and sinus medications, etc.) should be handled like doctor-prescribed medication. Over-the-counter does not make it safe for young children. 
  • Place handbags up high to prevent young children from reaching them.
  • Stress that only an adult can give medication. Do not call medicine "candy."

Older Adults

Half of the calls made to Banner Poison & Drug Information Center are about adult poisonings. All adults and especially older adults should keep the poison control number, (800) 222-1222, on their refrigerator, near the phone, and in their cell phone in case of emergencies.

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you determine when to take medication that says take twice or three times a day.
  • Do not save medication for the next time and dispose of any medications that have expired.
  • Do not take anyone else's medication or share yours.
  • Do not take your medication in front of children. They might copy what you do.
  • If you have young grandchildren come over be sure that all medication is out of their reach.
  • Keep an up to date list of the medications that you are taking. It is a good idea to keep a copy of this list with you at all times.
    • Include on the list all over the counter medications and herbal medications what you are taking – vitamins, Tylenol, echinacea, etc.
    • Know what each medication is for. If you don't know ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you.
    • Mark which medications need to be taken with food and those that should not be taken with food.
    • Write down when medications are to be taken.
    • Write down which side effects you should watch for and know what to do and who to contact if you experience any of the symptoms.
    • Even if you don't have questions, go over this list with your doctor so they are fully aware of all the medications you are taking.
  • Put your glasses on before taking any medication.
  • Take all of your medication as prescribed.
  • Try to get your prescriptions from the same pharmacy so you get to know the pharmacy staff and they can be sure to check for medications that do not go together.
  • Turn the lights on when taking medication at night.