The best ways to protect your children are to pay attention, only keep current prescriptions, and store the drugs in a safe place that children can’t access.
It is a good idea to inventory all medications in the medicine cabinet or closets regularly. Safely dispose of any prescription or over-the-counter drugs that are expired, not being used, or damaged and dried out, to get them out of the house. And don’t forget the liquid medications as well. An alarming trend is youth getting high on cough syrup. Because they are easily purchased in drugstores without a prescription, cough syrups, pills, and gel capsules containing Dextromethorphan (DXM)—particularly “extra strength” forms—are frequently abused by young people (who refer to the practice as “robo-tripping” or “skittling”).
Keep current medications hidden away for safe keeping. You may consider locking them up, especially for controlled substances like hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), oxycodone (OxyContin® and Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®). Check pill quantities often to ensure they have not been removed without your knowledge. Also, ask friends and family to do the same. Children are curious and smart. They often gain access to prescription drugs at grandma’s house or a friend’s home.
Store medicines in a cool dry area since heat and humidity can damage medicines. Keep the medicine in the bottle it came in. The amber color protects the medicine from light. You will also have the information right there about what the medicine is and how often to take it. Keep the lids on your pill bottles tightly closed. A cap can’t be childproof if it’s not fastened correctly.
For more tips on safely storing prescription medicines, check out one of these resources.
Safe storage of meds
Prescription Drug Child Safety
Protect your kids, Rx Drug alert
How to Dispose of Unused Medicines
GenerationRx Drug Storage
Unsafe Disposal Affects both You and the Environment
How to safeguard and store meds
Information about health and safety recalls
- The most secure way to keep prescription medications is in a locked storage box up and away.
- If locking them is not an option keep them stored in a secured place in your home that is up and away from children.
- Keep a medication log so you know what medications you have and how many you have of each medication.
- Medications whose labels specify that refrigeration is necessary should always be kept in the refrigerator.
- The medicine cabinet in a bathroom is often not the best place to store prescriptions. They should be stored in a cool dry place. Humidity, heat, and the change in temperatures in the bathroom can alter the potency of some medications.