Spring Cleaning Your Medicine Cabinet
This spring, it’s out with the old and in with the new. As flu season comes to a close, you’ll want to get rid of outdated medication and make room for springtime necessities.
Outdated Medicine Is Dangerous!
If you’ve suffered an injury within the past year or have a chronic health condition, you may have more medicine than you know what to do with. Occasionally doctors will instruct you to stop taking a certain prescription and replace it with a different one. Suddenly you’re left with half empty bottles that you no longer use (or keep track of.) These can be extremely dangerous—especially if you live in a house with teenagers or children.
While spring cleaning your bathroom, take all of your medicine out of the cabinet, wipe down the shelving in the spirit of spring cleaning, and read every label. Before you return it to the shelf, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it expired? – Most over the counter drugs last for a few years, so you may not have checked the expiration date for a while. Pharmaceuticals, however, last about a year. Over time, medications will start to break down chemically. This can reduce their effectiveness or even cause you harm. If it’s expired, throw it out!
- Has it been recalled? – A bad drug can cause serious injuries—even death. You probably don’t need much more convincing to get rid of a recalled drug. Just make sure you dispose of it safely. (see below)
- Is it half used? – This question applies more to pharmaceuticals than your typical over-the-counter drugs. You can certainly keep the unexpired Ibuprofen around after using half the bottle. But, if you took only half of an antibiotic before getting switched to a new one, it wouldn’t be enough to kick a future infection. Pitch it.
How to Dispose of Medicine Safely
Do not flush unused prescription medication down the toilet! Unless the label advises you to.
In the past, flushing medicine was advised as a means of preventing children and animals from finding medication in the trash. But today, the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Pharmacists Association advise using a disposal procedure that does not affect the environment or contribute to abuse potential:
- Ask your pharmacist if your medication requires a special disposal procedure, or if a Take-Back program is available in your area
- Dissolve expired medication in water (crush solid medication up first to allow it to dissolve quickly)
- Mix water with kitty litter or saw dust and place in a sealed plastic bag
- Remove and destroy identifying personal information from prescription labels
- Check for state-approved hazardous waste facilities
Following a few extra steps while disposing of medication can help protect your household, your environment, and your community. Plus, as the days get warmer, you’ll need the extra room for sunscreen.
Spring-Clean Your Way to a Hazard Free House
Check back in at the Schultz & Myers Personal Injury blog for more ways you can spring-clean with an eye for safety. Our personal injury attorneys are dedicated to reducing injuries in and out of the home. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact us for a free consultation today!