What should a parent know about child medicine safety?

When it comes to taking medicines, kids aren't just small adults. When using non-prescription medicines, here are 10 ways to be sure you're giving your children the right medicine and the right amount.

Read and follow the label directions every time. Pay special attention to usage directions and warnings. If you notice any new symptoms or unexpected side effects in your child or the medicine doesn't appear to be working, talk to your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

Never guess on the amount of medicine given. Half an adult dose may be more than your child needs or not enough to help. Read and follow the label.

Know the abbreviations for tablespoon (tbsp.) and teaspoon (tsp.). Don't confuse them. You should also know: milligram (mg.), milliliter (mL), and ounce (oz.).

Avoid making conversions. If the label says two teaspoons and you're using a dosing cup with ounces only, get the proper measuring device.

Never play doctor. Twice the recommended dose is not appropriate just because your child seems twice as sick as last time.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional before giving two medicines at the same time to avoid a possible overdose or an unwanted interaction.

Follow age and weight limit recommendations. If the label says don't give to children under a certain age or weight, don't do it. Call your doctor.

Always use the child-resistant cap and re-lock the cap after each use. Be especially careful with iron-containing vitamins or supplements, which have been a source of accidental poisoning deaths in children under three.

Follow the "KEEP OUT OF REACH" warning. Today's medicines are often flavored to hide the taste of the medicine, which is all the more reason to keep all drugs out of the sight and reach of children.

Always check the package and the medicine itself for signs of tampering. Don't buy or use any medicine from a package that shows cuts, tears, slices or other imperfections.

Report anything suspicious to the pharmacist or store manager.

Just a couple things to add: when measuring out teaspoons, NEVER use silverware from the drawer. If the medicine doesn't come with a dosing cup, ask for one at the pharmacy. Household spoons are NOT ACCURATE. When measuring liquid with a dose cup remember (they try and confuse us!): a CC is the SAME as an ML., some directions say give CC's and others say ML's. THEY ARE EQUAL. Also, when you pour the liquid from the bottle, always cover the dose direction label with your palm before pouring. That way the label always stays clean and easy to read CORRECTLY. When giving pills OR liquids, always check directions and dose THREE times.