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Medicine Cabinet Do's and Don'ts for everyone

Dangers lurking in your medicine cabinet

Most people would think twice about not cleaning out their refrigerators or closets once a month or at least every six months or so. But do you consider what might be lurking in your medicine cabinet? Experts believe that cleaning out your medicine cabinet to insure you have all the proper medications and emergency necessities is just as important as other cleaning. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

1. Throw out anything that has expired

It seems like a waste but expiration dates are attached to the bottles for a reason. Medicine does not last forever, and if your cough syrup expired in 2009, and it is 2013, chances are it’s lost its potency.

2. Keep medications in their original packaging

This is just common sense. Pills can look alike and keeping them in their original manufacturing packaging can ensure you are taking the correct dosage and the medication has not expired.

3. Periodically restock your medications

How often has a child or a spouse gotten a cut and you race to the medicine cabinet only to find you don’t have the right size band-aid or ointment? Cleaning out your medicine cabinet can also be a great time for you to jot down what you need to buy the next time you go to the store.

4. Keep medications out of the reach of children

According to the CDC, there were over 20,000 drug overdoses in the United States in the last year. Drug over doses are “second only to motor vehicle crash deaths among leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.” Obviously a large percentage of overdoses are adults as well as children, but locking up your most potent medication can ensure that young children don’t overdose. You must also make sure all prescription bottles have childproof caps. The CDC reports that painkillers can be a very high threat to teenagers and small children.

5. Don’t store medication in your bathroom

Medicine cabinets have traditionally been in the bathroom, but research indicates that bathrooms are too damp and humid to preserve medication. Medical experts suggest storing medication in a cool and dry place which is out of the sunlight.

6. Keep the basic medications on hand

Anyone with a typical family can generally predict what types of medications may be needed in a typical year: high supply of band aids, anti-bacterial spray, pain relievers, antacids, decongestants, head ache medication and first aid creams. Keeping the basic on hand can save you time and money.

7. Dispose of medication safely

If you are unsure about how to dispose of medication you can always talk to your pharmacist. Some medications also have disposal instructions on their labels. Keep in mind, flushing medication down the toilet is generally not a good idea. Some medications can be safely discarded in the trash but should be mixed with another undesirable substance, such as coffee grounds, to ensure that someone doesn’t find the pills later and consume them.  Keep in mind, many pharmacies will dispose of old or unneeded medications for you.
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