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Teaching Proper Medication Use to Teens and Young Adults is Vital to Their Health and Safety

The West Virginia Poison Center Offers Medicine Safety Tips 

for College Students and Teens

While teaching your teen life skills, such as washing clothes and doing dishes, don’t forget to teach them how to purchase and take medicine. Medication use is an important life lesson that is vital to their health and safety.

All medications—prescription, over-the-counter, herbals, and vitamins—can be dangerous if not taken correctly. Many people see over-the counter-medications, herbals, and vitamins as safer than prescription medications because a doctor does not have to write a prescription. This is not true. While medicines are safe and helpful if used correctly, all medications can be dangerous if not taken correctly. Overdoses occur when someone accidentally, or purposefully, takes too much medicine.

The West Virginia Poison Center offers these key points to teach your teen or young adult:

  • Know what each medication they are taking or may need is named, how to buy it, what it is for, and how to properly take the medication.
  • Never take medicines together that contain the same ingredient, such as acetaminophen for pain and cold and flu medicine that contains acetaminophen.
  • Always read the medication label carefully and follow the directions.
  • Do not take more medicine than recommended. Taking more medicine will not make you better quicker and could cause serious harm.
  • Do not take the next dose of medicine too soon. Keep track of when medicine is being taken, such as setting an alarm on a cell phone for the next dose.
  • Medication dosing devices are not just for children. The correct dose is important for adolescents and adults. Kitchen spoons should never be used for medicine. The medicine will not work if not enough is taken and too much medicine can be poisonous.
  • Never take someone else’s prescription medicine. Even if it could be beneficial, it could cause harm. Plus, taking other people’s prescriptions is illegal!
  • If in doubt, talk to the pharmacist or doctor about medications.
  • If a medication mistake or dosing error does occur, call the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. All calls are confidential and answered by a medical expert in poisons.


COVID-19 Test Kit Safety

COVID-19 test kits have found their way into many homes during the pandemic. Many more people will soon have access to the free test kits being shipped to thousands of homes in the coming weeks. While severe poisonings from the contents of the kit are not expected, mistakes can cause unwanted symptoms.
To use safely, remember the following tips:
  • Store COVID-19 test kits and used tests up, away, and out of reach of children. These items can be choking hazards and cause unwanted exposures if children put them in their mouth.



  • Some of the kit solutions come in packaging that looks like eye drops. People have accidentally used this solution instead of their eye drops. To help prevent this, do not store test kits near personal care products.



  • You will never be instructed to place a solution on the nasal swab before putting it in the nose. This may cause irritation to the nose. In addition, the test will no longer work.
  • To help limit unwanted exposure, do not open test kits until ready for use and throw away the solution container immediately after use.
  • For any COVID-19 test kit exposures, call the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.    

                                            Safe Use of Bleach and Disinfectants

                                                             A Reminder

Compared to the same time period as last year, the number of poisoning exposures in West Virginia from bleach products and disinfectants has doubled. Of note is that the majority of cases this year involve teens and adults. Children < 6 typically make up the majority of poisonings from these products. Poisonings with hand sanitizers also continue.

The West Virginia Poison Center (WVPC) wants to remind people that the safest way to keep our skin clean is with soap and water. Not only is this safe, it is a very effective way to kill the virus causing COVID-19 that might be on our skin. Attempting to clean the skin with disinfectant wipes or bleach solution is not only not necessary, these products can damage the skin and potentially cause coughing when the fumes are inhaled. Soap and water really is enough.

If you are not near soap and water, for example when getting back to your car after leaving the grocery store or gas station, hand sanitizer can be used as long as the alcohol content is 60% or more. Now that more hand sanitizer products are required to be made in non-traditional ways, since the products you would normally buy are not always available, there are added risks. Non-traditional hand sanitizer may come in bottles without the usual pump. This requires special caution. Just because it comes in a bottle that looks like a mini-bottle of liquor or a medicine bottle, NEVER drink hand sanitizer. This can be dangerous and it will not kill any viruses that you have already inhaled or that is already in your body.

Save bleach products and disinfectants for your counters and other surfaces. This is where they can work to kill the virus causing COVID-19. Drinking these products or purposefully inhaling them can harm you, not help you. These products have no way to get to where the virus is harming your cells and internal organs.

Finally, keeping the cloth masks you are using clean is important. The best way to keep them clean is to wash them in warm or hot water with soap. Do not spray them with bleach or disinfectant. The fumes will irritate your lungs the next time you wear the mask and these products can break down the material.

Please stay safe, not only from COVID-19, but from the products you use every day now. For any poisoning concerns or questions, the WV Poison Center is still available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222.


"The hotline is being provided through a long-standing emergency predparedness partnership between DHHR's Bureau for Public Health and the West Virginia Poison Center." 

Even though the WV Poison Center is operating the WV Coronavirus Hotline with its health care professional staff and supervised health care professional volunteers: 

The West Virginia Poison Center is dedicated to remaining available for poison questions and emergencies. Only trained Poison Specialists are answering these special calls: 


For poisoning questions or emergencies, call the WV Poison Center first. 

(If a person is having a seizure, is unconscious, or not breathing, call 911) 

There are many accidental poisonings and medication errors that can be managed at home. Home care is immediate care and avoids a trip to the hospital if this is not required. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the strain on our health care facilities is especially important, as is limiting contact with large numbers of people.