Medicines are found in nearly every U.S. household, yet many people don’t realize the responsibilities that come with having them in the home. These responsibilities start by taking medicine as prescribed by healthcare professionals, and continue with safely storing and disposing of them. These simple steps can help reduce the risk of their misuse and abuse by people who have access to your home and medicine cabinet.
Safeguarding prescription medicine properly is easy once you know what to do, and it’s important for the health and safety of your family and others who come into your home.
If medicine is not stored properly, there can be serious consequences:
- The medicine may get into the wrong hands if a family member or visitor takes it without your knowledge. They may use it incorrectly to try to treat a medical condition — or worse, they may abuse it.
- Heat, humidity, or changes in temperature may damage the medicine.
- Children or pets may be accidentally poisoned by ingesting easily accessible medicine.
What to Do
If you have prescription medicine in your home, it is your responsibility to properly safeguard and dispose of it. Here are some general rules to follow:
- Keep all your prescription medications in a locked cabinet or lockbox
- Keep all medications (prescription and over the counter) in their original containers/packaging
- Store all medications in a location that is out of sight and out of reach of children and visitors
- Return medications to your secure location after every use
- Store them all together in a cool, dry and secure place
- Organize and inventory your medications at least twice a year to make sure you know how much you/your family is using and you are not keeping around unused or expired medications
- Only take medications that are prescribed to you
- Never give your medications to anyone else
Medicine Safety – Lock it Up!
FDA pharmacist Connie Jung explains how you can prevent drug-related harm by locking your medicines up. Or find where to safely dispose of unused or unwanted drugs in Oregon.