Your Home Medicine Cabinet

Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home can save you time, money, and worry.While potentially serious injuries or illness should always receive prompt, professional medical attention, many of the everyday health problems we face-from splinters and scrapes, to headaches and heartburn- can be treated at home. By having the right supplies in your medicine cabinet, you can avoid stressful emergency trips to the drug store, physician's office, or emergency room.

Some important suggestions you should follow are listed here:

Location. Although many people keep their medicine in a cabinet in the bathroom, that is usually the worst place in your home to store medicine and medical supplies. Bathrooms are typically warm and humid. In warm, humid conditions, medicines begin to break down and deteriorate. They lose their effectiveness. A few drugs may actually decompose to produce harmful substances. Find another place to keep your medicines, such as a hall or bedroom closet-any place that is cool, dark, dry and safe.

Safety. Especially in homes with young children, all medical supplies and prescription medication should be kept secure. Even something seemingly as safe as aspirin will cause injury if used incorrectly. Always keep all medication out of the reach of children.Medicines should be reviewed regularly to avoid possible problems with old medications, which can lose their effectiveness or even become harmful. When taking inventory of your medicines, use the following checklist as a guide.Check the expiration dates on all non-prescription medicines.If a non-prescription medicine has no expiration date and you purchased it more than six months ago, or you can't remember when you bought it, throw it away.Discard prescription medicines that are more than a year old.Watch for missing or unclear labels, discard contents.Flush medicines down the toilet and rinse containers before discarding.Store medicines in a cool, dark, dry place.Make sure the storage cabinet and all medicine bottles are child-proof.

What to put in your medicine cabinetHome medicine cabinets have a way of filling up "on their own." Someone in the family has a cough, so you get some cough syrup. Someone gets a cut, and you go out to buy bandages.

Use the following checklist to make sure that you have essential supplies on hand.-Adhesive strip bandages-Adhesive bandage tape-Burn ointment or spray-Butterfly bandages-Cotton balls-Cotton cloth for slings-Cotton-tipped swabs-Disposable gloves -Elastic bandage-Eye wash and eye pads -Flashlight with fresh batteries-Gauze bandage squares, pads, rolls-Heating pad-Hydrocortisone cream-Hydrogen peroxide-Ice Pack-Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol-Local anesthetic spray-Pain reliever-Scissors-Small plastic sups-Soap-Syrup of Ipecac-Thermometer-Tweezers

Additional SuppliesYou also must take into account any special prescription medication needs of your family, such as heart medication, insulin, high blood pressure medication and other essential medications. If a member of your family is known to suffer severe allergic reactions to insect stings, special kits are available (by prescription) and should always be kept on hand. You may wish to obtain more specific information from you physician or pharmacist about safe storage of such medication, with specific regard for the expiration date of each prescription.

Your home medicine cabinet can play an important role in the safety and well being of your family. Having adequate supplies on hand and knowing the proper use of each, can save you valuable time should an emergency ever arise.