Friday, May 8, 2015

Van Buren Community Schools and SAFE Coalition Supports OTC Literacy Program to Educate Tweens On Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety

Van Buren Community Schools and SAFE Coalition are teaming up with the American Association of Poison Control Centers and Scholastic to help educate tweens on the safe use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with a national OTC Literacy education program. The Van Buren Community Schools and SAFE Coalition will be implementing the OTC Literacy program during the month of May at the Van Buren Community Elementary School.  Research shows that tweens begin to self-administer medicine around 11 years old, or in fifth to sixth grade. In 2012, America’s poison centers managed more than 296,000 exposure cases involving children ages 6 to 19 and over half of these cases involved medication errors and misuse.[1]

Parents play a critical role in helping their tweens learn about the responsible use of OTC medicines. With approximately 10,000 children visiting emergency departments every year due to errors from self-administering OTC medications, it is important for parents and guardians to discuss the safe use and storage of OTC medicines with their tweens. The OTC Literacy program equips parents, teachers, and guardians with the necessary materials to help facilitate these critical discussions.

Below are the Top Five tips from the OTC Literacy program that are helpful as parents discuss self-administration, safe use, and storage of OTC medicines with their kids:

1.    Tweens should only use OTC medicines with permission and supervision from their parent or guardian.
2.    Always read and follow the Drug Facts label, and never take more than what’s directed on the label.
3.    Know what is in your medicine and never use more than one medicine with the same active ingredient.
4.    Always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. Never use household measurement tools like teaspoons, tablespoons, or kitchen spoons.
5.    Storemedicines up and away and out of sight after every use.

Successfully launched in schools nationwide in 2013, the OTC Literacy program includes resources and engaging educational activities specifically designed for parents and teachers of tweens to increase knowledge of OTC safety and responsible use.  This month Dr. Blair, VBCH Doctor, Larry Thomas, Owner of Thomas Pharmacy, Heidi Bainbridge, SAFE Coalition Director, Mr.Pickens, 5th grade teacher, and Mrs. Jones, 6th grade teacher are sharing the OTC Literacy Curriculum with the Van Buren Community School 5th & 6th grade students. 

The program places special emphasis on the message that tweens should only take OTC medications with the permission and supervision of parents or guardians. Please visit for supportive tips on how to discuss OTC Literacy.  For more information on the program in Van Buren Community Schools please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at 

[1]Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Bailey JE, Ford M. 2012 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’National Poison Data System (NPDS): 30th Annual Report. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2013 Dec;51(10):949-1229

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