Spring clean your medicine cabinet to keep your family safe
Sandra Hermiston and Ross McLaughlin , CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, April 17, 2017 6:00AM PDT
Your medicine cabinet can become a dumping ground for old drugs, and with every bottle of pills you keep the risk for accidental poisoning for kids increases.
Leftover pills are far from harmless. Taking them incorrectly or accidentally could be deadly or land a child in the ER, especially if you’re talking about leftover narcotic painkillers, such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin. Prescription sleep-aids like Ambien, and anti-anxiety medications like Xanax are also problematic.
“You really want to make sure medications like these are secure - either locked away or well hidden, out of kids reach,” said Ginger Skinner of Consumer Reports.
Over-the-counter medicines can also be an issue, particularly if things look and taste like candy. So take care with what you keep on hand. A recent survey found that 19 percent of people hadn’t cleaned out their medicine cabinet in over three years.
British Columbia has a special recycling program for old medications. You can return them to a local pharmacy to properly dispose of them and keep them out of the wrong hands.
It’s not recommended that you throw medications in the garbage, but if you do, remove any personal information from the bottle first and mix the drugs with something unappealing, like coffee grounds or kitty litter to make in unattractive to people who might think of ingesting the medication.
As for safety issues with using expired medications, most drugs aren’t toxic once they expire, they just lose some of their effectiveness. Using expired medication for a minor health problem like a headache or mild pain relief may not be a big deal, you just wouldn’t get the same potency. However, if you’re taking drugs for a chronic or life-threatening illness, it’s wise to get a new prescription.