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Time to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet!
Back to school time in my house also means the return of colds and stomach bugs, cuts and scrapes, all courtesy of my children’s pre-school. So while we take the time to pack away tank tops and shorts and pull out those cozy fall sweaters, in my household we also take a moment to sort through the medicine cabinet.
What mom hasn’t reached for antibiotic cream, crying child in tow, only to find that it is past its expiration date? Here’s how to avoid that situation and prepare yourself for the cold and flu season.
1. Grab a pen and paper.
The last thing that you want to do is clean out expired medications and forget to replace them. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll remember to buy them – along with that loaf of bread that you keep forgetting to pick up. Make a list of products that need a replacement as you discard them.
2. Don’t use it? Toss it!
Did you try the fruit-flavored antacids only to find that flavored anything doesn’t work for you when you’ve already got indigestion? Did the fairy princess band-aids that your little diva talked you into fall off two mninutes after you put them on? Don’t clutter up your cabinet with products that you aren’t using. Remove them now and make note: no more bubble-gum popsicle toothpaste for you. Ick.
3. Find the expiration date on your medicines.
A seasonal review of both over-the-counter and prescription medications is always a good idea. Over time, medicine begins to lose its effectiveness, especially if you store it in a warm, moist bathroom medicine cabinet or linen closet. Although generally medicines don’t become dangerous once they’ve expired, they are certainly no longer useful.
All medicine has an expiration date. Creams and ointments tend to list the expiration on the crimped end of the tube. Prescription meds will list a “use by” date, and over-the-counter pills tend to have an expiration date on the box or foil wrapper.
4. Properly Dispose of Old Medications.
In the past we’ve been told to flush expired medication. Unfortunately, this practice has led to the toxification of not only rivers and streams, but also the very water that we drink. To dispose of tablets and pills, crush them, dissolve them in water, and pour them into an absorbing substance such as sawdust or kitty litter before disposing of them in a sealed bag. Before tossing those old medicine containers, be sure to remove and destroy the tags that contain your personal information!
5. Revamp Your First Aid Supply.
Do you have an adequate supply of band-aids, gauze, tape, antibiotic cream, and sanitizing pads? Have you checked the expiration dates on these items? To find out more about what items should be in your family’s first aid kit go to the American Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org/
Now that you’ve prepared your family, have a safe and healthy school year!