When was the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet? I’m sure many of you have been doing some spring cleaning around your home, but this very important spot is often overlooked. You could find yourself in big trouble if your medicine cabinet is full of expired medicines or it is not stocked properly for an emergency.
First, begin by emptying every container from your cabinet onto a flat surface. Physically touch every container and verify the expiration date. If expired, empty contents into a sealed bag, empty can or other container with a lid, and set aside for disposal. We’ll talk about disposal options shortly. In addition to expired medicine, you also want to dispose of any half-completed prescriptions, such as antibiotics, since a full dose will need to be taken in the event of future illnesses.
After you’ve identified everything for disposal, I want you to make sure you’ve chosen a cool, dry location for storing all of your medicines, which will help to prevent loss of effectiveness. Many people don’t realize that most medicines should not be stored in the bathroom due to high levels of humidity. Always read the instructions on the package for specific storage tips.
When returning items to your cabinet, store most commonly used items within arm’s reach and always group like with like for easy retrieval. For example, all first aid supplies should be stored closely together so you know exactly where to look in the event of an emergency. You can also remove items from bulky packaging and store in clear containers, just be sure to notate the expiration date for easy reference!
Now, let’s talk disposal. Please DO NOT flush your unwanted medicine down the toilet or throw it in your trash can. Doing so can create toxic risks in our landfills and water supplies. Instead, contact your local pharmacy to find out if they will accept the medicine for proper disposal. Another option is to bring the medicine to local medicine collection events in your community. National Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 30th 2016. Many local governments are teaming up across the nation to provide safe disposal of medicine in their communities. Here in Clearwater, we have Operation Medicine Cabinet from 10am-2pm at Westfield Countryside Mall. This is a wonderful event for our community and I encourage you to take in any unwanted medicine for disposal!
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