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Take Stock of the Family Medicine Cabinet

Take Stock of the Family Medicine Cabinet


Clean out the family medicine chest and re-stock it with everything you and the kids might need in the coming year.


By FamilyTime

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We are fortunate to have access to high-quality, over-the-counter medications and home remedies for minor illnesses and accidents. Trouble is, these products tend to languish in our medicine chests for months and years.

Take a few moments to review the contents of the family medicine cabinet. Discard what is old and re-stock it with new products. Not only is this exercise sensible, it's an important safety precaution.

Out-of-date prescription and non-prescription drugs can be harmful, especially if taken inaccurately or if they land in the hands of children. Take no chances.

Out with the Old!
Get rid of any medication that has expired. If there is no expiration date on the package, discard it if it's more than six months old.

Toss any medicine without its original label. If it looks discolored or if tablets have turned powdery, discard it. If a clear liquid has turned cloudy or sediment has collected in the bottle, throw it away.

Throw away damaged packages, ones with ill-fitting or broken caps, or with water damage.

Discard all medication safely. Some experts recommend flushing the medicine down the toilet and rinsing out the containers before disposing of them. This prevents the possibility of children or pets finding and ingesting them. On the other hand, there is some concern about the drugs in our water supply, so you may not want to do this. 

If you feel confident that no children or animals will get into your trash, put the medications in it, but make sure they are inside a plastic bag.

In with the New!
Make a list of the medications and supplies you will keep. Next, make a list of those you need to buy to replenish your home-care arsenal.

Every household needs certain over-the-counter medications and first-aid supplies. Buy only what you will realistically use. For instance, if no one in your household is sensitive to poison ivy, there's little need for calamine lotion.

Buy medication with child-resistant caps. If you have children, purchase over-the-counter medication specifically developed for children. Don't plan to reduce dosages of adult medication.

Good Common Sense
When you use the supplies in the medicine cabinet, do so with care. Check with your doctor before giving anyone any medication. Read the label carefully and follow the directions exactly.

Measure accurately, never over- or under-dose. At best this can be ineffectual, at worst dangerous. Use the little cups or droppers that come with the medicine or use a kitchen measuring spoon for teaspoon and tablespoon amounts.

Never leave containers uncapped or loosely capped. Store all medication out of reach of children. If medicine requires refrigeration, put it on a high shelf in the back of the 'fridge.

Bathrooms are not the ideal place to keep any medicine. The humidity is not good for them and can decrease their potency. Instead, keep them on a high shelf in the linen or hall closet, your bedroom, or someplace equally accessible but safe.

Keep the medicine cabinet uncluttered. When you're searching for cough syrup in the middle of the night, you will happy to have order.

Maintain a list of medications, both over the counter and prescription, and update it regularly.

Finally, don't forget to take along first-aid supplies when you travel. Keep a very basic kit in the car, too -- but make sure it's secured and out of reach of the kids.



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