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How to safely keep - and dispose of - medications in your home

Pediatric pharmacists Kelly Steidl, Jeni Burgess and Meg Anderson. (PHOTO BY DEBBIE REXINE)

Pediatric pharmacists Kelly Steidl, Jeni Burgess and Meg Anderson. (PHOTO BY DEBBIE REXINE)

Storing medications securely

Children, the elderly and anyone who takes more than three medications are at greatest risk of taking the wrong medicine or the wrong dose of medicine. To help reduce the risk of medication error, pediatric pharmacists from the Upstate Golisano Children‘s Hospital share this advice:

* Obviously, keep medicines out of reach of children – and remember to ask the same of Grandma when you visit her house.

* Check the medication label for storage instructions. If the label is unclear, ask your pharmacist.

Pills illustration* Bathroom medicine cabinets usually are not the best place to store medications. The humidity from hot showers and baths can alter medications. A more temperate hallway closet or kitchen cabinet may be a better location.

* If the medication must be refrigerated, place it where it won‘t be easily confused with other products.

* Monitor expiration dates, because taking expired medicines can be dangerous.

* Get rid of leftover medicines. Trying to treat a new ailment with the wrong medicine can also be dangerous.

Discard them in a designated spot

Nine law-enforcement offices throughout Onondaga County collect needles, other sharp medical devices and expired or unused medications, thanks to a new community effort to reduce availability and accessibility of drugs.

Drop boxes are available during regular business hours at the Baldwinsville, Camillus, Cicero, DeWitt, Manlius and Marcellus police departments and Onondaga County Sheriff‘s offices in downtown Syracuse and Liverpool and on Onondaga Hill.

Learn more from the Upstate New York Poison Center - at 315-464-5423 – which teamed with the Onondaga County district attorney‘s office, sheriff‘s department, health department and several community organizations for this pilot project.

HLOA logofall2015coverHear a radio interview where Gail Banach of the Upstate New York Poison Center explains Onondaga County's program to dispose of unused medications, needles and other sharp medical devices safely. This article appears in the fall 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.