The use of child-resistant safety caps on medicine bottles has been common practice since 1970, but just because they’re child-resistant doesn’t mean they’re childproof
«Resistant safety caps don’t work unless they are used the right way, by resealing them immediately after each use,» comments Maribeth Lovegrove, M.P.H., epidemiologist with CDC’s Drug Safety Program.
«We have found that many young children can easily access the contents of a bottle when the lid is not closed tightly,» Lovegrove reports.
Lovegrove suggests that, rather than relying exclusively on the child proof cap, some innovative child-resistant packaging, such as «blister packs,» could help prevent unsupervised ingestion of certain high-risk medications because each dose of medication is individually sealed.
Children may have more difficulty opening them, which could decrease the likelihood that they will ingest pills they should not be taking.
Not all pharmacies may stock blister-packed medications, but it’s worth asking. PillPack, an online pharmacy service based in New Hampshire, can fill prescriptions in individual, customized plastic packaging (they have shipping service to all 50 states except Hawaii).
Use of safety cap with flow restriction.
To prevent acetaminophen overdoses, drug manufacturers recently added a small plastic safety device to open bottles of liquid medication. This is known as a flow-restricting safety device and limits the amount of liquid a person can pour, even when the cap is removed and the bottle is turned upside down, shaken or squeezed.
This prevents children from ingesting large amounts of liquid medication because it does not quickly flow out of the bottle, decreasing the chances of overdose risk.
In 2013, Consumer Reports tested flow-restricting devices on more than 30 bottles of liquid acetaminophen for children and infants. Our tests confirm that this feature added another barrier of protection against acetaminophen poisoning, putting more obstacles in the way of children pouring and drinking liquid medications.
CDC’s own research shows something similar: Without a flow restriction and with an improperly placed safety cap, 82% of children were able to empty a bottle in less than 2 minutes; with a flow restriction and without the safety cap, just 6% of children were able to empty the bottle by the end of the 10-minute test.
Ideally, the risk of accidental ingestion decreases when a flow restriction safety device is placed on any liquid medication bottle.
How to remove caps from child-resistant bottles
We live in a childproof world in which items from mouthwash to aspirin to vitamins come packaged in containers covered with caps or lids designed so that children do not have easy access to the contents.
Unfortunately, these child proof cap sometimes become adult-proof as well. They can be incredibly difficult to open, especially for those suffering from conditions such as arthritis. Safety measures are necessary for people who have children, but for those who don’t, they become little more than somewhat annoying.
- Push-Up Lid
- Grasp the bottle tightly in both hands.
- Squeeze and push down on the lid while twisting it. This action will cause the inner stopper to pop out and allow you to «unlock» the bottle. Hold the bottle still or twist in the opposite direction than you are twisting the cap.
- Remove the cap.
- Cap Arrow
- Find arrows printed or molded on the cap and on the body of the bottle.
- Align the arrow on the cap with the arrow on the bottle.
- Hold the bottle firmly with both hands. Place both thumbs under the cap where the arrows line up. Using even pressure, force the cap onto the bottle with your thumbs.
- Tighten Cap
- Hold the bottle firmly with one hand.
- Squeeze cap between thumb and bent index finger.
- Twist the cap while maintaining pressure with your fingers. Remove it from the bottle.
Tips and Warnings
Child proof cap may be easier to open, but only if you don’t have children in your home. Modifications can be made in a variety of ways, depending on the specific types of bottles. For example, push a tack through a double cap, press down and twist.