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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Decluttering Your Medicine Cabinet - Proper Storage and Disposal of Medications

The following article in USA Today by Liz Szabo explains the danger of improper drug storage and disposal - very helpful when you declutter your medicine cabinet. As foster parents, we are required to keep all medications in a locked location - not a bad idea for any home with children!

"Old or expired medications do more than clutter the bathroom. They can fall into the wrong hands — or even local drinking water.

One in nine kids abuse prescription pain relievers, says Sandra Schneider of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Meds also pose a risk to babies and toddlers, says Lara McKenzie of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Nearly 10,000 small children accidentally swallowed opiate painkillers between 2003 and 2006, says a report in Annals of Emergency Medicine. A single dose of some heart medications or pain pills can kill a child, Schneider says.

Medications kill more people than any other source of poisoning, says the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Some, such as the antibiotic tetracycline, can degrade into a toxic form over time, Schneider says.

Medications flushed down the toilet can end up in drinking water, says Jeanie Jaramillo of the Texas Panhandle Poison Center in Amarillo, which has held drug "take-back" programs for years. Water treatment plants typically can't filter out medications, she says.

People who don't live near a drop-off site should throw them out only after taking precautions. The Food and Drug Administration recommends these steps:
•Take meds out of their original packaging and put them in a container that can be tightly sealed, such as a coffee can.
•Mix them with coffee grounds, kitty litter or anything that makes them undesirable.
•Scratch out identifying information on the original package.

The FDA recommends flushing only a handful of particularly risky medications — such as narcotic pain patches — when drug take-back programs aren't available. A list of these is at fda.gov. People with medication safety concerns can call a local poison control center at 800-222-1222."

Note: Take Back programs have ceased at this time of writing. 

More on medicines:

What Every Medicine Cabinet Needs

National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #4 - First Aid Kit

Get Organizing Month - Decluttering Your Bathroom Storage