One of the most integral parts of sustainable living is keeping oneself and family healthy. Aside from eating wholesome food and exercise, keeping access to medicines and vitamins is essential. Every household should learn how to store medicines at home efficiently.
In one occasion or another, we all have experienced the inconvenience of having to look for a pharmacy in the middle of an emergency for an over-the-counter medicine. Keeping our own medicines at home won’t only save us precious time but more importantly we could save lives. The storage and organization of medicines in our “home pharmacy” is as extremely vital as that in actual pharmacies or hospitals.
Storing your medicines properly can help safeguard that they work as they should and moreover prevent poisoning accidents.
Here are five easy steps to guarantee you’ve got the essentials covered in storing medicines at home.
Choose Your Storage Location Wisely
Contrary to what we used to believe, it is best to avoid installing our medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Heat and moisture from your shower, bath, and sink may damage your medicine.
The recommended place to store these items is in your kitchen. It is a very convenient room in your home to place such items. Just remember that as long as you keep these meds away from heat sources (such as near to the stove and oven) the room is better for storage.
Store Medicines On Conditions Conducive To Each One
It’s important to keep in mind that where you store your medication can affect its potency and safety. Every medication has its own recommended storage condition- from room temperature, to refrigeration, to freezing; therefore it’s advisable to check with your pharmacist about any specific storage instructions. The majority of medications may be stored at room temperature, in a cool dry place.
Store Medicines Safely, Away from Kids and Pets
It is obligatory that you prioritize safety when deciding where to store and organize medicines. Whatever you choose to do, you’ve got to consider your space when deciding what will work for you. Always remember to store your medication out of sight and reach of children and pets, to prevent accidental ingestion.
Use A Storage Drawer Specifically for Medicines
One way to organize your medications is to use a storage drawer organizer unit. You may even find it both practical and of aesthetic value to use personalized thermoformed plastic trays. They are easy to labels and it will be helpful to your family members to find the right product more quickly. It becomes easy for everybody to put the meds back when you are done using.
Gather The Contents in Your “Home Pharmacy”
Another fun part is getting the stocks for your home pharmacy. They are in the following categories:
Pain and fever medications: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) in both adult and child strengths (if you have children). If you have an infant, you may need infant strengths as well. Ibuprofen also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Antiseptic solutions: Your pharmacy should have hydrogen peroxide, Betadine solution, or equivalent to carefully clean cuts and wounds.
Topical Antibiotics: They come in both ointments (greasy, but protective) and creams (rubs in easily) and all are considered equally effective.
Hydrocortisone: For itching, treating mosquito bites, and the likes, topical steroid is also available in creams and ointments.
Antifungal medications: Use for Athlete’s feet or fungal diaper rashes
Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Over-the-counter Tagamet (cimetidine) or Prilosec (omeprazole) would be appropriate to include, along with Maalox or Mylanta.
Salt: You can get this from the kitchen, but making your own saline can be used for gargling or homemade nasal spray/drops.
Antihistamines: Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is the most common, but it can be sedating. Claritin (loratadine) lasts longer (24 hours) and is considered non-sedating.
Decongestants: Medications containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or phenylephrine are for stuffy/congested noses. They can be stimulating and may interfere with sleep. Decongestants also drain mucous. It is best to do this during the day when you can blow your nose.
Cough medicines: There are two types: expectorants (makes you cough by loosening mucous), and suppressants (controls or reduces coughing). It is important to know your goal when you select one.
Miscellaneous: Band-aids (all types, including fingertip ones), gauze dressings, Telfa (non-stick) pads, paper tape, and other dressings are always needed.
Highly depending on you and your family and individual needs, there may be other medicines or classes of over-the-counter drugs that you would like to have handy. These may include eye drops, nasal sprays, moisturizing lotions, aspirin, vitamins, etc. Each home pharmacy will need to be individualized, and only you can do it. The home pharmacy of someone with children will be totally diverse than a family without kids. Medicines need to be securely locked if you have kids, or grandchildren visiting.
Finally, just because you have a well-stocked home pharmacy does not imply over-the-counter medications routinely. We should all learn to tolerate minor pain without heading for the ibuprofen for each and every ache. Always use discretion and avoid over-medication. Follow dosage recommendations and avoid the home treatment of things that have not been properly diagnosed — even if you are the one diagnosing them. Use your medical provider as a consultant if you have doubts.
Check Expiration Dates
Get rid of unused medicine safely and promptly. Make it a habit to check the expiration date on your medicine. You may also want to keep an actual record book.
Expired medicines must be thrown out. Never keep old or unused medicines. Flushing medicine down the toilet is also not a good idea since this is not good for the water supply.
When throwing away medicine in the trash, first mix your medicine with something that ruins it, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter. Then secure the entire mixture in a sealed plastic bag. You may also bring unused medicines to your pharmacist if this known practice or knowledge in the community. Still it is best to ask. There are also some areas that have “drug give back” programs which can be another option.
Being diligent about storing your medication safely and appropriately will help ensure that you get the most out of your medication, and the protection of your health and those around you.
About the Co-writer:
Donna Lee is the operations manager and resident writer at Plastiform, a thermoforming plastics company. She is also an expert on sustainable packaging.