Home Prescription Drug Safety

The new year is a good time to take a fresh look at your medicine cabinet. As odd as that might sound, it’s a serious task: Each year, 80,000 children are hospitalized for overdoses, and one in four teens admits to abusing prescription drugs. For these and other reasons, it’s a good idea to review your home’s prescription drug safety.

Here are some actions to consider:

  • Lock ’em up. It might seem like a drastic step, but keeping your medications in a locked box or cabinet will greatly reduce the chances that a child will accidentally swallow something, or that anyone will steal your medication.
  • Talk frankly to kids. Tell children very directly that medicine not specifically for them is dangerous and off-limits. Don’t assume they won’t be interested. Colorful pills and liquids can look inviting to young eyes.
  • Know what you’ve got. Keep a list of all your medications and have a pretty good sense of how much you have of each. That way you’ll be more likely to recognize if something is missing.
  • Have show-and-tell with your doctor. At least once a year, take all your medications to an appointment with your primary care physician so they’re aware of what you’re taking and what you have on hand.
  • Get answers. If you have any questions about a medication, ask your health care provider or pharmacist.
  • Get rid of the old stuff. Check your drug label to see if it gives disposal recommendations. You can also go to the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s website or call 800-882-9539 to find a DEA-approved disposal center near you. PLEASE NOTE: While it was once common to flush no-longer-needed medications, many drugs should not be flushed. To see a list of drugs OK for flushing, search “FDA flush medication” in your Internet browser.

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