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Medication safety: Safely storing medications in your home

Keeping medications safely in your home is part of being pro-active in supporting your own health and the health of those that share in your living environment. In the home environment managing medications includes how we handle, safely store, and organize our medications.

Consider organization

  • Your medications in your home should reflect the active and up-to-date medication list from your primary care provider. Know what you are taking and why. If you have a question, ask your team of healthcare providers (pharmacist, nurse, and primary care provider). This is essential knowledge and part of the information you need to have before taking prescription and over the counter drugs.
  • Organize medications and your schedule based on this list. Discard all medications that are no longer prescribed. Similarly, with over the counter medications and nutritional supplements, if these are not actively used they should be discarded safely. Always keep the medication in the prescription bottle it was prescribed to you in.
  • If you prefill a medication box, plan to do this one week at a time. Keep the active medication bottles you used to fill the medication box. The more medication bottles and products we have the more likely we are to make a management error in what we take and when. However, we can minimize the risk by staying organized and up to date.

Consider those in your environment

  • In addition to managing your health and medications, consider who else has access to your medications. Young children, adolescents, family and friends, and even our pets in the home may take medications that could poison them or cause harm.
  • Never share your prescription medications. In addition to accidental use, there is the growing problem of prescription drug abuse especially if you are prescribed a narcotic pain medication. If you have a concern that someone may be taking your medication or replacing it, it is critical to seek assistance from law enforcement or from your healthcare team. In preventing these problems you may consider using a locked medication box. Even a simple box with a lock can create increased security in knowing your medications and others will be protected.

Consider the temperature of your environment

  • Temperature, sunlight, and humidity can impact how well your medications work. Review the temperature conditions for storing your medications. Keep all medications in the same place but not in the kitchen or bathroom where environmental conditions are likely to vary. Never take medications that have changed in color, consistency, or odor. Storing medications safely at home is part of staying well.