It’s important to be careful when storing medication, as even the most innocuous-seeming drugs and supplements can be dangerous if ingested by children or pets in the wrong dose. Not only is it a safety issue to store medication properly, but failure to do so can affect the efficacy of your prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines. Here are some tips for how to store your medication safely, both at home and at work.
Safely Storing Medication At Home
If you have young children or curious pets at home, it’s best to store your medication out of reach, in a locked cabinet or box. KONIG safes are a great option for storing medication, whether it’s a prescription or supplements from the grocery store. KONIG’s mission is to keep children safe from things they shouldn’t have access to, including medications. They have both the KONIG 1.0 and KONIG Junior safes that are ideal for storing medication at home, whether it’s on top of a dresser or tucked into a drawer.
If you’re worried about a safe or lockbox full of medication being stolen, KONIG safes do come with accessories that allow you to tether it into place, ensuring it stays put where you want it.
Also, be sure to purchase versions of medication that come in child-resistant containers, which will make it more difficult for little ones to get into your pills. These tamper-proof seals were put in place in the 1980s, an FDA requirement that was prompted by a string of deaths due to medicine being contaminated on store shelves.
Requirements for Preserving Medication
MedlinePlus recommends keeping your medication in a cool, dry place – extreme heat or cold can damage many drugs. A good rule of thumb is to store them at room temperature (between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Read your labels, as some supplements or prescriptions must be stored in the refrigerator for maximum effectiveness and preservation.
It should go without saying that you should always make sure your medication is properly labeled so you don’t accidentally take the wrong one. However, it’s popular to divide medication into daily doses, which can lead to uncertainty regarding which pill is which. Here are other tips for safely storing and preserving medicine:
- Keep it away from heat sources in the kitchen
- Store outside of a bathroom so steam and moisture don’t damage it
- Remove the cotton ball to avoid drawing moisture into the bottle
- Don’t store medicine in a vehicle where temperature cannot be controlled at all times
These storage recommendations apply to medication in liquid, capsule, and pill form. All should be treated the same when it comes to environmental and safety precautions.
Safely Storing Medication At Work
If you need to take medication during the day, it’s best to store it in a lockable drawer or box at work. That way, you can be sure that only authorized personnel will have access to it. If you’re using a portable safe or lockable container to store your medicine, you can easily transport it with you to and from work.
A storage container such as a KONIG is even rated for airport travel, so if you need to bring medicine with you on a trip you don’t have to transfer it out of your home/work storage solution into a TSA-approved container. This makes it a breeze to ensure you have all the right medications and supplements you need for your trip, whether it’s for business or leisure. When traveling with medicine, always keep it in your carry-on luggage vs checked luggage; the luggage compartments under planes are not climate-controlled, and you don’t want to risk losing your luggage and being without your medication upon arrival.
When storing medication at work, you should also follow the same storage guidelines as you would at home: keep your drugs in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
Medication at School
If your child needs to be given medication while they’re at school, talk to your doctor and the school employee (such as the nurse) who will be responsible for giving the dose. Come up with a plan to hand-deliver the medication to the school in the appropriate daily dose and have it stored in a locked container at the school. Your child, no matter their age, should never be responsible for bringing medication to and from school or administering doses to themselves without supervision.
Discarding Unused Medication
Once you no longer need a medication or supplement, it’s important to dispose of it properly so that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Many pharmacies offer drug take-back programs, where you can bring unused drugs for safe disposal. You can also check with your local police department to see if they have a similar program.
If there’s no take-back program available, the FDA recommends flushing certain drugs down the toilet – this is the best way to ensure that they won’t be accidentally ingested by children or pets.
Medicine on the Flush List
While this is not a comprehensive list, it contains words that indicate a medication is on the flush list.
- Sodium oxybate
- Diazepam rectal gel
- Methylphenidate transdermal system
To check if your medication is on the FDA-approved Flush List, check HERE.
You should never flush unused medication down the toilet or toss it directly in the trash unless it’s on the FDA-approved Flush List. Doing so can contaminate water sources, or increase the risk of a person or animal ingesting it unsafely.
For non-flushable drugs without take-back programs, the FDA suggests mixing liquid or crushed pills/capsules with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds or kitty litter before throwing them in the trash. After mixing the meds, put the whole mixture into a bag you can seal up before throwing away.
WHEN TO DISCARD MEDICATION
Even if your medication hasn’t passed the expiration date, if you notice any of the following, your medication may have gone bad and should be discarded:
- Change in color
- Change in texture
- Change in smell
- Pills or capsules stick together
- Pills or capsules are harder or softer than normal
- Pills or capsules are imperfect shapes
This goes for prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and supplements.
Storing medication safely is important for protecting both yourself and those around you. By following these simple tips, you can rest assured that your drugs will be stored securely and out of harm’s way.