Once medications are past their expiry dates, their compounds begin to break down. Not only does this make the medication ineffective, but some medications can be harmful to ingest once expired. When looking through your medications, check both prescription and over-the-counter medications for an expiry date. Typically medication has a shelf life of about one year, so if you can't remember when you bought something, chances are it's time to toss it. You should also discard any partially used prescriptions. According to Health Canada, old medications should not be thrown in the garbage, flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink, as this can be harmful to the environment. Instead, it is suggested that all old medications be taken to your local pharmacy to be disposed of properly.
Storing medication properly will help ensure it doesn't break down before its expiry date. Be sure that medication is stored in a cool, dry place; you should not store medication in the bathroom, because the heat and humidity can cause the compounds in medication to break down. If you have children, ensure that the medication is stored in a location out of their reach. Ensure that all the adults in your household know where the first aid kit is located. Consider storing a second first aid kit in your car.
Along with medications, it is important to ensure that your medical devices are working. You should check that your thermometer is working properly. If you have other medical devices, such as blood pressure monitors or glucose monitors, check to make sure these are working too. Take devices to your pharmacist to ensure your models are up-to-date. Check to make sure your bandages, toothbrushes, ice packs and eyedroppers are all in good shape.
Restocking your medicine cabinet will help ensure you have what you need when you need it. Begin by restocking your first aid kit. This is essential because you might need these items in an emergency. If you don't have a first aid kit, follow the Red Cross guidelines to create your own. If you already have one, make sure you replenish anything you have used throughout the year, such as bandages, antiseptics and rubber gloves. In terms of medication, it is a good idea to have allergy medication, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, anti-nausea medication and anti-diarrhea medication on hand. If you got rid of expired insect repellent or sunscreen, remember to restock these items as well.
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