10 Tips to an Organized Medicine Cabinet
Your child wakes up in the middle of the night with a terrible cough and you are in search for a bottle of cough medicine. You dash to the medicine cabinet searching for that elixir only to find expired bottles and a bottle that has just enough medicine for someone about the size of a hamster. Your child needs something so that he/she feels better and everyone in the house can go back to sleep. My husband and I definitely fell into this trap back when we were new parents. I used to send him out to the 24-hour pharmacy in his sneakers, pajamas and a hat to hide his major bed head. We’d give our daughter the medicine and shortly thereafter everyone would go back to bed. If you’re reading this column nodding, you’ve probably been in a similar situation. After going through that mad dash, I realized there had to be a better way to ensure we were more prepared. So I sat down, did a little research, and devised a system that can help you prevent that midnight run in the future.
- Be prepared for an illness or injury by taking stock of the items inside your medicine cabinet. I do it every January, for example.
- Toss out expired over-the-counter drugs, creams, lotions, etc. When disposing of prescription drugs, not all items can be flushed or put in the trash. Call your local pharmacy for clarification on how to safely dispose of questionable prescription drugs.
- Check on the amount of bandages and ointments to make sure you have a full supply on demand for when an injury occurs.
- Current prescriptions should be color coded by family member with a permanent marker to halt confusion – some pharmacies are doing this now with labels.
- Don’t forget make-up. The shelf life regarding makeup varies by product – mascara should be changed every 3 months, foundation 6 months and powder 12 months. Makeup brushes should be washed every 3-6 months with mild soap and water.
- To keep track of items that need replacing, hang a list to the inside door of the medicine cabinet with an attachable pen.
- Also add to this list, drug contradictions to avoid an unnecessary sickness or trip to the emergency room.
- Keep items that are similar on the same shelf. For example: cough medicine, fever reducer, and nasal decongestant. This will help avoid looking each shelf over and over for a certain item. Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs should be kept on the top shelf to avoid child tampering.
- Never transfer a prescription to an unlabeled container. For family members that take daily medications, assign a weekly pill case that is clearly labeled with the owner’s name. Pill cases should be refilled each Sunday evening for the week. Always make sure to renew your prescriptions at least a week in advance for those you pick up at your local pharmacy and at least two weeks for mail order prescriptions. A number of pharmacies offer people the ability to sign-up for automatic refills and will call your doctor for a new prescription once the last refill on the prescription is filled.
- To keep items from toppling over, you have endless choices on baskets or bins to store the bigger items. You can also reuse what you already have in the home – baby wipe containers, shoeboxes, etc.
An organized medicine cabinet makes life’s interruptions a bit smoother and avoids making a fashion statement in the middle of the night at the local pharmacy.
Originally published in our Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Parenting Special Needs magazine.
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