How to Safely Store Your Over-the-Counter Medicines

Medicine safety includes more than following labels and giving kids the correct dose of medicine with the correct dosing device. It also includes safely keeping medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

Each year, approximately 50,000 children under the age of 5 wind up in hospital emergency rooms because of unsupervised medicine ingestion.

Research published in the September 2011 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics found that the number of accidental drug poisonings among young children increased 22 percent from 2001 to 2008. Researchers name increased quantities of medicines in the home as the primary cause. In 95 percent of the cases, the poisoning occurred because an unsupervised child ingested the drug, not because of a labeling or dosage error by a parent or health care worker.

Here are some tips on how to carefully store your medicines:

  • Choose a place that is high up and out of sight to keep all of your family’s medicines and vitamins, including those products you use every day.
  • Put medicines and vitamins away—out of reach and out of sight—after every time you use them.
  • Always lock the child safety cap completely after every time you use a medicine.
  • Remind houseguests of safe medicine storage so they don’t leave medicines in bags, coats, or other reachable places that small children can get into.
  • Always tell children what medicines are, never referring to them as candy. For more tips on teaching kids about medicine safety, watch this educational video from the FDA.
  • Keep the national poison control helpline number handy, or program it into your phone: 800.222.1222.
  • For more information, you can also visit our pages on childproofing your home and medicine cabinet and storing medicines safely at high temperatures.


New findings about consumer attitudes on OTC medicine storage are based on a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the CHPA Educational Foundation.


Put your medicines Up and Away and out of sight. Families take medicines and vitamins to feel well or stay well. Any kind of medicine or vitamin can cause harm if taken in the wrong way, even medicine you buy without a prescription. Approximately 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver was not looking. Up and Away reminds families of the importance of safe medicine storage.