By ABC News
ABC Newsâ€™ Paula Faris reports:
If you think those hard to open, child-resistant caps will always keep your children safe from pills, think again.
In the blink of an eye, children can gain access to medication that poses a risk to their health.
Every year, the Poison Control Center receives more than 500,000 phone calls related to children 5 and under gaining access to medications. That is one call every minute, every day.
It happened to Amany Mansour-Awarde. Her son took concentrated Tylenol, which she left on the dresser. The bottle had a child-resistant cap that had not been properly closed.
â€œHe was covered in pink Tylenol,â€ Mansour-Awarde told ABC News. â€œI had no idea how much he had taken.â€
In 2011, over 67,000 children 4 and under were rushed to the hospital for medicine poisoning. Thatâ€™s one child every eight minutes, up 30 percent in the last decade, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
In some cases, children were exposed because parents and caregivers left pills out â€” on a kitchen or bathroom counter, even on the ground. And sometimes pills are in easy-to-openÂ containers. But in others, kids opened pill bottles that were labeled â€œchild-resistantâ€ and their parents thought were safe.
To determine how easy it could be for children to open child-resistant bottles, ABC News recruited 6 children, ages 3 through 6, which we gathered at the Museum of Motherhood in New York City.
Before the demonstration officially started the youngest child in the group popped open a child-resistant pain prescription bottle in just six seconds.
Though the younger kids could not open the containers, kindergarteners opened every single bottle in a seven-minute period.
â€œIf you give kids enough time with a device, they will be able to figure it out,â€ Vinya Agbor, a mother in the group, told ABC News.
So why is it so easy?
Thereâ€™s no such thing as child-proof bottles and child-resistant means that the majority of children under 5 â€“ some 85 percent â€” cannot open it in under 5 minutes, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Pill boxes â€“ the kind many senior citizens rely on â€“ are also a concern because most are not child-resistant at all.
After six hours of testing in the hospital, Mansour-Awarde was told her son was okay.
â€œI should have never have, for a moment, left that bottle on the dresser,â€ Mansour-Awarde said. â€œTylenol overdose can lead to liver failure and death. Â I was very scared.â€
The CPSC acknowledged that some children can get into pill bottles, and tells ABC News that there has to be a balance because seniorsâ€™ need to access their medication as well.
The lesson to parents is to keep your medications out of reach, or even better, lock them up. Even childrenâ€™s vitamins, when taken in excess, can cause damage to the intestines and stomach.
Make sure you have the Poison Control Centerâ€™s number programmed into your phone (1-800-222-1222).