Keeping Your Family Safe During Cold & Flu Season

Keeping Your Family Safe During Cold & Flu Season

Ah, fall season has arrived, bringing a welcome change in the weather. And, that just feels good – until it doesn’t. Cooler temperatures trigger the start of flu and cold season. For many people, visits to the pharmacy ramp up this time of year, and it is wise to ramp up safety, too.

Medicine cabinets often get restocked with the onset of fall, and that makes it a good time of year to also take stock of necessary safety precautions to restrict access to medication and prevent misuse. With more people using medication – everything from vitamins to prescription drugs to over-the-counter remedies – exposure is increasing. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that more than 90 percent of poisonings happen in the home, and they are completely preventable. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to take every precaution possible. Start with awareness of the hazards that may exist in your home. In fact, one idea is to tour your home as if you were a curious three-year-old. You may be surprised at what you uncover.

Poisoning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, behind motor vehicle accidents. According to a publication by The National Safety Council, poisonings among young children increased more than 12 percent from 2000 to 2010, largely driven by medications found in the home. Adults are at risk, too, primarily from misuse and from unintentional overdose.

First, do a clean sweep of your medicine cabinet. October 26 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Local law enforcement agencies host collection sites, so check for such an event in your area. This is a safe, responsible way to dispose of expired, unwanted or unused medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers safe drug disposal options if your area does not offer a take-back program. For some medications, it is recommended they be flushed down a sink or toilet, and the FDA has a list of those on its website. Additionally, they recommend scratching off labels on prescription bottles before you recycle them.
Here are a few more tips to keep your home safe:

  • Keep medicine out of reach and out of sight. Many accidental poisonings involving young children occur because medicine is accessible, so keep it locked away – never on a nightstand or on a kitchen or bathroom countertop.
  • The out-of-sight plan is also a good one if you have visitors or teens in your home. You do not want to make it convenient for someone to use or remove medication, and there have been far too many tragedies recorded by such behavior.
  • Keep medicine in its original container, with the safety cap secured. If you’ve become accustomed to placing daily pills in a dispenser, keep it locked and stored.
  • Always take medicine as it is prescribed. Following the instructions prevents accidental overdose, so read the label and take the medicine accordingly. In other words, heed your doctor’s advice.
  • Display the Poison Control phone number, and ensure that everyone in your household knows about it.

POISON CONTROL 1-800-222-1222

Keeping your family and guests safe is the goal of every homeowner. It requires a certain diligence and must not be an accidental action. Home safety is a habit for every season.

Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.