For most families, having designated space in the home for over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications is an absolute necessity. With these medicines being within easy reach, family members can get the relief they need without the hassle of going to the pharmacy. However, it’s not uncommon for kids to be curious and get hold of medicines. This could lead to disastrous consequences, including a trip to the emergency room.
That said, it’s not just proper medicine storage that you need to ensure in your home. You should also know how to properly administer medicines to your children, for example, or make sure that a senior in your household doesn’t mistake one drug for another. Whether you get your medicines in-store or through an online drugstore, there are certain tips that you should follow when it comes to storing, handling, and taking medicines at home. Here are some of them.
Keep Medicines Out of Reach of Children
It’s a given that medicines should be kept out of children’s reach, but parents and older family members sometimes forget to put medicines where kids cannot access them. As such, make sure to store medicines in places above counter height such as high shelves where children cannot see or reach them. You should also avoid leaving your purse containing medicines on nightstands and other easy-to-reach places where kids and even pets can easily spot them. When unpacking grocery bags, prioritize medicines and other medical items to prevent kids from getting hold of them first.
You should also be mindful of items that you may not consider medicine but could lead to adverse effects when used by children unsupervised. These items include topical creams, eye drops, vitamins, and medicine patches.
Store Medicines Properly to Preserve Their Integrity
Most medications need to be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry area without direct exposure to sunlight. The kitchen is a good place to store medicines since the bathroom’s humidity and heat could damage them. If you intend to store medicines in your bathroom, place them inside a sturdy medicine cabinet, preferably with a latch or childproof lock.
Opt for Childproof Packaging
As much as possible, you should get child-resistant medicine packaging as an additional precaution against your children’s curious fingers. Always remember to close child-resistant medicine caps tightly and keep them out of your kids’ sight after using them. After all, no packaged product is completely tamper-proof, and persistent children or pets can easily open child-resistant packaging with enough effort and patience.
Getting a lockbox or safe for your medicines would also help, especially if you need to store medicines in their original packaging. You can also dispel your child’s curiosity by instilling the idea that medicines are not treats. Calling them “candy” or other appealing names will only lead to temptation and confusion.
Check Medicine Labels and Use the Right Measurement Aids
It’s always a good practice to read labels and follow the right dosages for medicines, especially if they’re prescription medications. Medical professionals generally do not recommend giving two or more medicines with the same active ingredient, so it would be best to check the labels first for active ingredients.
Use the dosing apparatus that came with the medicine instead of regular kitchen items that often have measurement discrepancies. A medicine dropper or syringe can also help you make accurate dosage measurements of liquid medications.
Avoid Sharing Medicines and Only Use Them Prescribed
When using prescription medication, avoid self-medicating and always use drugs as prescribed. Avoid hoarding or buying too many OTC medications such as cough or cold medicines that can be difficult to store properly.
You should also avoid sharing prescription medicines with different people and consult a doctor before administering the same medications to other people in the household. Some medications can cause serious side effects when taken with common drinks or food products. Because older adults have highly sensitive organ functions, they are more vulnerable to side effects such as dizziness, sleepiness, and memory difficulties.
Pets are also vulnerable to adverse effects when taking human medicine. For example, ibuprofen may be harmless for us but can be fatal for your pet.
Be Mindful of Where You Take the Medicine
When taking your medicine, avoid doing it in a common area. The best place to do it is over your bathroom sink where spills can be easily cleaned. Make sure to check the area thoroughly for leftover pills and liquids after taking your medicine.
Store medicines away immediately after use to prevent children and pets from being left alone with them. If you need to leave your medicine’s packaging or container open while attending to other tasks such as answering the phone, be sure to take it with you.
Organize, Label, and Provide Instructions for Medicines
If you need to leave your children, pets, or senior household members with relatives or babysitters, make sure to provide clear instructions on usage, and label each medicine as necessary. Remind caregivers to keep their bags, jackets, or purses with medicines away from your kids and pets.
If you have seniors in the household, labeling medicines clearly would help them easily identify their medicines and avoid using those of others. Consider using pill containers with compartments for each day of the week and separate their morning and evening pills. You should also consider separating the medications of each member of the family to keep the household’s medicine cabinet organized and avoid accidental intake.
Practice Safe Disposal
It is also important to check the shelf life of medicines before taking or administering them. To prevent any member of the family from accessing old drugs, make it a habit to throw away all unused or expired medicines. You can safely dispose of medicines at home, but there are also initiatives you can check online that handle the disposal process for you.
For pills or capsules, you can put them in a sealable plastic bag with water to dissolve them. To make the bag unappealing for scavenging people and animals, you can mix the resulting liquid with coffee grounds or sawdust.
Safer Medicine Management, More Peace of Mind
People need medicines to help relieve symptoms, treat diseases, and manage various health conditions. While every household should have its own stock of medicines, it is also crucial that each family member can take their medicines safely. Careless handling and storage of medications could result in negative consequences, so it’s important to make an effort to avoid these entirely. Give yourself some peace of mind by following the tips above on how to properly manage your family’s medicines.
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