Ensuring the safe storage of your medicine is essential for its shelf life as well as preventing poisoning incidents. When you buy a prescription medicine from a pharmacy, ask the pharmacist for any safety and storage measures.
Typically, it’s recommended to store your medicine in a cool and dry atmosphere away from the exposure of sunlight. Excessive heat and moisture can damage the medicine and turn it ineffective or even poisonous. It is also crucial to keep your medicine away from the reach and sight of children.
If you’re not sure how to store your medicine safely, take a look at the following 7 tips to guide you.
Cool and dry place
Different medications have different storage requirements. For example, some are suitable for room temperature, while others require a cool or refrigerated environment. It would be best to consult with the pharmacist about storage requirements at the time of purchase.
Generally, it’s recommended to store medicines in a dry and cool place. Therefore, using cool compartments such as a dresser drawer,a closet, a shelf, or a cabinet, which is away from any hot appliance, would make a suitable storage place.
It’s also important for the storage environment to be dry and away from the direct exposure of light.Otherwise, medicine can breakdown rapidly and become ineffective. If you live in a place with a warm or humid climate, taking additional measures for medicine safety becomes crucial.
Don’t replace the original container
When you buy a medicine, do NOT take it out of its original container. It’s not safe to replace the container because the medicine may become susceptible to the outside environment. Keeping the drug in its original box is imperative to its long shelf life and effectiveness or you can also put your medicine in medication lock box to keep your medicine safely.
You also need to read any storage instructions mentioned on the medicine label and follow the guidelines strictly.
Capsules and other types of pills are affected by moisture immensely. For example, aspirin pills may deteriorate into salicylic acid when exposed to moisture.
Keep your medicines in humidity-free spaces. Consider taking out the cotton ball from the medicine container because it attracts moisture to it.
Some medicines may have the requirement of storage in the refrigerator. Medication in a liquid form, such as syrups, should always be refrigerated. Liquid medicine can give rise to the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. Therefore, storing them in a refrigerator is essential to prevent harmful growth. Use a refrigerator that maintains a temperature consistently.
Make sure to only refrigerate medicines that come without preservatives. Medicines with preservatives usually lose their effectiveness in a cool environment. Therefore, don’t store them in the refrigerator unless advised by the manufacturer or the pharmacist.
Avoid storing in your bathroom
Most people store their medicines in bathroom cabinets. However, that’s far from ideal for the safety of medicines. Bathrooms tend to be humid spaces due to the moisture from the use of the toilet, sinks, baths, etc. Showers also cause the heat to increase in the bathrooms.
Moisture and heat are never a good combination for the life and effectiveness of most medicines. This could be the reason your medicine goes bad before its expiry date. It may also start showing discolouration. Do not continue using the medicine if its colour starts fading.
According to the CDC, the number of children who suffer from accidental overdoses of medicine increase by 20% every year. Almost 60,000 children are rushed to the emergency room every day due to medicine poisoning.
Therefore, if you have children around the house, you must take measures to keep all medicines out of their reach. You can follow the steps given below to ensure child safety:
- Keep your medicines away from the sight and reach of children in a medication lockbox
- Always close the seal of medicines tightly after using each time
- Do not keep medicines in a low-height drawer
- Use child-resistant seals or caps if possible
- Be mindful of where you keep your medicines after use
- Be on alert for any medicines that a visitor may have brought
- Talk to the children about medicine and explain why it’s not for their use or play
Travelling with Medicine
Keeping your medicines safe from contamination and the harmful environment is even more essential when you’re traveling. If you’re travelling by road, avoid keeping your medication in your car’s glove compartment. It can get either too hot and humid or too cold, which can affect the medicines negatively.
If you’re travelling by air, always keep your medicines in your carry-on bag instead of checking them in. Travel with your medicines in their original container. It’s strongly recommended to take a copy of your medical prescriptions with you, in case you’re inquired at the airport, run out of your medicines or lose them.
If you’re diabetic, keep a letter from your doctor or pharmacist, which lists all the supplies necessary for you. Some of these medicines may have special storage requirements. For example, insulin is only effective for a month. If you need to use it for a more extended period, you’ll have to refrigerate it during your travels. You can keep the insulin in a chilled thermos or a cooler in the plane.
Keeping your medicines safe and out of reach of children is a responsibility that you must always be mindful of. Don’t continue using medications that show a change of colour or smell even if the expiry date isn’t any time soon.
It’s also vital to follow the storage guidelines for medicines. Some medicines come with special requirements for the storage location, make sure you follow them. Safe storage of medicines plays a crucial role in preventing the shortening of their shelf lives.