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What are the Safest Ways to Store Medications?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many years ago when indoor bathrooms became the rage, a common feature of the bathroom was the medicine cabinet. The name medicine cabinet implies the appropriate place to store medications, but actually, this is just about the worst place in your home to store medications, particularly those in pill or capsule forms. Some gel or ointment medications do just fine in the bathroom, but the rest should be kept away from the moist environs of bathrooms.

A few considerations go into finding the best places to store medications. First you need to consider individual pharmacy recommendations for each med. Second you must always store medications in a place inaccessible to children. Lastly, when no individual recommendations exist for storing your meds, think cool, dry, and away from heat and light sources.

Sometimes you must store medications in a refrigerator, yet this can pose some issues. Obviously children easily access the fridge. It can help, of course, to use childproof caps on meds, but don’t consider these a guarantee that children will not be able to open the bottle. A reasonably intelligent and coordinated child can work out a childproof cap with ease.

Instead of choosing to store medications in the fridge without backup protection, consider a small metal lock box for storage, and make sure to lock it with a combination lock or key lock. Keep the keys well out of reach. Any liquid vitamins that need to be stored in the fridge, particularly those that contain iron should also be stored in the lockbox.

Many other medications should not be refrigerated. Instead these should be kept in a dark, cool and dry place, well out of reach of children. People may choose their kitchen cabinets for this, but don’t choose one directly over a stove, as it will be exposed to more heat. Heat rises and temperatures in your home are warmest near ceilings, and on the second floor. This means while your goal is to store medications away from kids, it may not be best to store them in your highest cabinets.

A lockbox can again prove handy to store medications. This provides a dark place and can be set lower down in your cabinets so you also have a cool place if you keep the locked box out of direct light. Also be sure to go through your medications from time to time and safely dispose of medications that are expired. Further, don’t forget that over the counter medications and vitamins should be stored with the same care as prescription meds.

While you want to safely store medications out of reach, first aid supplies should not be locked away. Items like bandages and gauze should be kept handy so you can get to them in a hurry if you need them. Be sure to let all family members know where they can find first aid supplies so they can get to them when required.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Talentryto — On May 20, 2014

If you don't have to take a lot of medications, a good place to store a few prescriptions is in a locked desk drawer. This location is secure, and is an area that most people use everyday so it is easy to access.

By Spotiche5 — On May 19, 2014

@ocelot60- Another convenient place to store medications is locked in a hallway closet. This is especially convenient if your closet is in a central location, close to your kitchen and bedroom.

By Ocelot60 — On May 18, 2014

Provided certain medications don't have to be stored in the refrigerator, I have that the most convenient place to store medications is in the top kitchen cabinet closest to the kitchen sink. This location is high enough to be away from children, yet convenient for adults. It is close to a source of water and where you eat each day, so you can have easy access to your medications in the mornings and during mealtimes.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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