on 14 May 2020 in At Home

Household Medication Storage: Is Your Medicine Cabinet Always the Best Choice?

It’s called a medicine cabinet for a reason…isn’t it? ~

While you may have been storing your prescription medicines, over-the-counter products, and vitamins in your bathroom medicine cabinet for years, you may be surprised to learn that – despite its name – this may not always be the ideal storage location for your medicine. There are two important factors to consider when choosing a place to store your medicines, vitamins, and supplements: security and environmental conditions.

Secure storage

One important reason to re-consider storing household medicine in the bathroom medicine cabinet is to keep your family safe, especially if there are children in your house. Any medicine – or even vitamin –could be harmful if taken by the wrong person, or in the wrong way. Finding a storage location that is hard-to-reach, out-of-sight, and/or in a secure storage device (small, personal lock-boxes can be purchased online, or at your local hardware or sporting goods stores) can help protect kids who may accidentally ingest or apply something out of curiosity.

If you do have kids at home, pick a storage place that they won’t be able to see or reach. Some examples may be in a kitchen cabinet (as long as it’s up high enough that it can’t be accessed) or possibly a shelf in your closet or linen cabinet. Every home’s exact storage spaces will be different, and it’s important to find a location in yours that you’re confident can’t be reached or seen.

Environmental conditions

It’s also important to understand whether or not your medicine needs to be stored in a particular environment, for example, away from light or within a specific temperature range. Before deciding the ideal storage location for a medicine carefully check the label for any specific storage instructions. Your pharmacist is also an excellent resource for questions related to your medicine and may be able to provide you with detailed storage instructions for each of your medicines.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to pick a storage location that is relatively cool and dry (i.e., no extreme temperatures or moisture, unless explicitly stated on the product’s label). Heat, moisture, and light are all factors that could potentially damage your medicine, decrease its potency, or otherwise change its chemical or physical composition. Because many medicine cabinets may be regularly exposed to heat and moisture, say, from a steamy shower, they are often not the best storage location for products that may be affected by temperature and moisture.

How to determine the best place to store your medicine

As we mentioned before, every home’s specific storage location or locations may be different, but the following should always be considered when deciding where to store your medicine:

  • Security: Can your storage location be locked? If not, is it in a location that can’t be reached or seen by children or others who may inadvertently come into contact with it?
  • Temperature: Extreme temperatures should be avoided (unless specifically stated otherwise, for example, for products that require refrigeration)
  • Moisture: Moisture should be avoided
  • Light: Light should be avoided

Once you’ve determined the best storage location in your home, don’t forget to regularly check for expired items, products that look, smell, or feel different, and medicine that you simply haven’t taken for a while and no longer need. Disposing of your household medicines is easy: visit our Kiosk Site Locator to find a safe and secure kiosk site near you. Kiosk sites are often located in your local pharmacy or law enforcement facility and are an anonymous and convenient way to securely dispose of your unwanted, unused, or expired medicines.

Due to possible disruptions associated with COVID-19, kiosk access to and operating hours at the listed kiosk locations may be impacted. If you have questions about a kiosk site, including current kiosk access, what can be disposed of, and hours of operation, contact the kiosk site directly. If you are not able to visit a kiosk and have immediate disposal needs, visit the FDA website for additional guidance and be sure to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local legal requirements.

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