When the clocks change I have several chores. I update the time on my half dozen watches, I change the batteries in my smoke detectors and I review the medicines I keep on hand. Why? Here are 5 reasons why you need to update, refresh and rethink your medicines at least twice a year.
Get rid of leftovers
You shouldn’t have prescription medicine hanging around. Some drugs, like most antibiotics, are prescribed for a specific amount and the instructions are to keep taking them until the bottle is empty, even if you feel better. When you’ve recovered from your ailment, get rid of any excess pills safely and properly by either taking the unused medicines to your pharmacist or mix your medicine with substances that ruin it, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter. Never flush your medicine down the toilet because it’s bad for the water supply.
Can I take an expired pill?
Medication is still effective and safe to use even after the expiration date. A study from the FDA shows that about 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over the counter, are okay to use well after the expiration date. If you question the safety and effectiveness of any drug, ask your pharmacist. Pharmacists are great resources and can tell you what you need to know about your medications.
What’s this drug for?
Does that prescription look vaguely familiar but you can’t quite remember what it was for? Take it to your pharmacist and ask. Some medicines are fine to keep on hand and “use when needed.” But if you can’t remember what you “needed” it for, you should be ready to toss it.
Humidity is not your pill’s friend
Most people store their medicine in a bathroom cabinet, but the heat and moisture from your shower, bath or sink may damage your medicine. In the bathroom, your medicines can be become less potent or expire before the set date. They can degrade and literally fall apart. Store your medicine in a cool, dry place like a dresser drawer, but away from children.
Keep out of your child’s reach, and from your teen, too
Too many children go to the emergency room every year because they got into medicines that were within reach. Too many pre-teens and teens “shop” their parents medicine cabinet for drugs to party with.
To keep your family safe, pick a spot in your home to store medicine up high and out of sight. Also, make sure the safety cap is always locked and put away your medicine after each use. Treat your meds with respect, they are powerful and need to be safeguarded. These tips can help families practice the importance of medicine safety.