Restocking Your Medicine Cabinet
01/31/2005

Restocking and cleaning your medicine cabinet is a chore that is rarely thought of or accomplished for that matter. Although it is not at the top of the to-do list, it’s an important task that should be completed every year.

The most common products involved in poisonings are drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends you discard all expired medications and restock each year because medications can become dangerous and ineffective over time.

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine recommends the following tips to overhaul your medicine cabinet:

  • Take out the entire contents of the medicine cabinet and get some clear idea of what you really need to keep.
  • Check expiration dates. Throw out all outdated medicine. If you’re uncertain about the shelf-life of a particular medication, call your pharmacist.
  • Are all medications in original containers and labeled clearly? If not, throw them away. It’s dangerous to store medicines in anything other than their original containers. For example, some medicines are packaged in tinted glass because exposure to light may cause them to deteriorate.
  • Discard old tubes of cream that have become hardened or cracked. Throw out any liquid that appears cloudy or filmy.
  • If there are children in the house, every medication is a potential poison. Discard all unnecessary medications by flushing them down the toilet. Keep all others locked in a high cabinet out of their reach.
  • Keep a container of syrup of ipecac in case of accidental poisoning.

In case of an emergency, keep the telephone number of your local Poison Control Center (PCC) near your telephone. PCCs are staffed with pharmacists and registered nurses, and they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.