About the PROTECT Initiative

What to know

  • The PRevention of Overdoses and Treatment Errors in Children Taskforce (PROTECT) Initiative is an innovative collaboration bringing together public health agencies, private sector companies, professional organizations, consumer/patient advocates and academic experts to develop strategies to keep children safe from unintentional medication overdoses.
  • Medication overdoses are a significant public health problem and often lead to emergency treatment and sometimes hospitalization.

Why it's needed

  • The potential for unintentional overdoses in young children grows with increased medication use in American households.
  • Unintentional medication overdoses are the leading cause of emergency department (ED) visits in young children.
  • However, people can take steps to prevent unintentional overdoses in young children.

Who it's for

  • Public health agencies
  • Medicine manufacturers
  • Packaging manufacturers
  • Poison control centers
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Consumer and patient supporters

Campaign goals

PROTECT Initiative participants focus on 3 key activities to prevent unintentional medication overdoses in children:

Improved safety packaging to prevent or reduce the amount of medication that young children are exposed to if they find and try to take medications on their own.

  • Enhanced safety packaging such as flow restrictors/bottle adapters can prevent unintended ingestions. Safer packaging can also limit the amount of medication that young children can get into.
  • Partners continue to encourage further research and testing of new packaging designs.

Improved labeling to reduce errors by standardizing the units of measure used on medication labels and dosing devices

  • Use of milliliters (mL) on liquid medication packaging, labels and dosing devices (such as oral syringes and dosing cups) helps reduce errors when measuring and giving doses.
  • Use mL units when prescribing, labeling and dispensing liquid medications.
  • Parents and caregivers should also be educated on how to give medications correctly.

Safe use and storage education to remind parents and caregivers to store medications safely and what to do in case of emergency.

  • Education on safe medication use and storage can complement advances made in safety packaging to protect children from unintended ingestions.
  • The Up and Away and Out of Sight campaign reminds parents and caregivers about safe medicine use and storage to protect children.

Up and Away and Out of Sight‎

Avoid a trip to the emergency room! Put your medicine Up and Away and out of sight and reach of young children after every use to prevent unintentional ingestion.

Key messages

You can protect your children from a medicine mishap by safely storing medicines at home and on the go.

Put medicines, vitamins, and other supplements (including gummies) away every time.

  • Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a family member's bedside.
  • Children are curious and put all sorts of things in their mouths. In less than a minute, they can get into things that could hurt them.
  • Pick a storage place in your home that children cannot reach or see. Different families may have different places. Walk around your house and choose the safest place to keep your medicines and supplements.

Lock safety caps.

  • Always relock the cap on a medicine bottle. If the bottle has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click or cannot twist anymore.
  • Remember, even though many medicines have safety caps, children may be able to open them. Store all medicine up and away and out of children's reach and sight.

Teach your children about medicine safety.

  • Teach your children about medicine and why you or another trusted adult must give it to them.
  • Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it.

Tell your guests about medicine safety.

  • Ask visitors to keep purses, coats, backpacks and any other travel bags that have medicine in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.
  • Program the Poison Help number (800.222.1222) into your home and cell phones so you will have it when needed. Share this number with caregivers in case there's an emergency. You can also visit www.poisonhelp.org.

Seek emergency medical attention!‎

Call your poison control center at 800-222-1222 if you think your child might have gotten into a medicine or supplements.