One of the very first things taught in the baby books is to baby proof your house. From the outlets to cupboards, there are devices designed to keep babies out. The medicine cabinet is one place that poses a threat to all children. Young children can play and ingest a medicine without realizing the consequences, while teenagers might intentionally try a prescription drug or pain medication. In this article, we will provide some tips to safely storage and disposal of all your household medications.
- Lock the Actual Bottle
It is not enough to store the medicine in a locked box or cabinet. Potentially dangerous prescription drugs should be stored in a locked pill bottle. These bottles have a unique code required to open them and evidence if they have been tampered with. This minimizes the chance that teens open the bottle intentionally and that young children accidentally play with it.
- Collectively Store all Medicine
Keeping all medicine in one place accomplishes a few things. First, it makes it easy to tell when a prescription needs refilled or that pain medicine needs replaced. Second, it leaves the focus of medicine in only one area of the house. Consider also locking all of this medicine together for an extra level of protection.
- Store Medicine in a Cool, Dry Place
With the rising cost of prescriptions and over-the-counter medication, you definitely want to reduce the amount of medicine that gets thrown away. Humidity and light have the potential to reduce the potency of the medicine. The exception to this is medicine that needs to be kept at a certain temperature. That particular medicine should be kept in the refrigerator.
- Keep Medicine in the Original Container
It can be tempting to combine medicine into one container for a variety of reasons. For example, when traveling it is often necessary to take only a small amount of a required medication. Even still, a separate bottle should be brought for each medication that needs to be taken on a trip.
- Do not Flush Medications or Pour Them Down the Drain
Prevailing wisdom was that medicine could be flushed down the toilet. However, water treatment plans are not able to adequately remove all of these medicines from our drinking water. In addition, some of the pharmaceutical waste can actually find its’ way to local streams and rivers. While this may seem like a small amount, the combination of all of these drugs over time can add up to a harmful amount.
- Clean the Medicine Cabinet
Even if you only have the standard over-the-counter medications, you definitely wants to check the expiration dates once a year. After this expiration, the medicine will not be as effective and could actually do more harm than good.
- Determine how the Medicine should be Disposed
There are a variety of options for disposing medicine. Look into your local geographic area and determine if any of the above options exist. The options in steps 7 through 9 are listed in optimal order. Therefore, you should try and dispose of the drug using step 7 first. If that is not an option, proceed to steps 8 or 9.
- Take Medicine to Prescription Take Back Programs
Many communities will sponsor a day to return all prescription drugs that are no longer needed. While this is not an option for over-the-counter medication, it does eliminate unneeded prescription drugs. Call your local pharmacy to find out if this program is offered.
- Be Proactive and Return Medicines
While community take back days are great, they are not always available. However, pharmacies will frequently take old medicine that is no longer needed. With the rise in prescription drug pain killer abuse, it is a good idea to get rid of these medicines when they are no longer needed.
- Pay Attention to Disposal of Prescription Drugs
The old adage that prescription drugs should be crushed with coffee grounds to prevent stealing from the garbage is no longer recommended. Rather, they should be crushed with something that is completely inedible to deter ingestion. In addition, the labels should always be removed from any prescription drug bottles.
Properly storing and disposing of medication is so important to being able to keep children safe. Following these steps will ensure that you are doing everything to keep children safe, that you are minimizing waste, and that you are disposing of that waste properly. Even if you do not have children, it is a good idea to follow these steps in the event that there are children at your house.