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Home Columns, Opinions & Misc. Prescription for safety

Prescription for safety

By Ken Elmore

Being totally bored out of my mind this time of year is normal for me. Sick of the winter routine, teased by a few warm days, but not yet able to do outside projects. What to do? What to do?

Well this is a great time to take a stock of the stuff around the home and where it’s kept. One type of items we all have and yet don’t think much about where they belong are all of the medicines and such that we take. Having heard a few tid-bits on the subject, I decided to go straight to the professionals for the scoop on do’s and don’ts. I had a great conversation with Pharmacist Dana Marra, of the Kronner Pharmacy.

Mr. Marra has been in the business of medicines and their safe use for many years and aside from being a delightful person to talk to, it was like walking into a treasure trove of information. Marra gave tips that all of us should follow when it comes to our meds.

One of the first examples provided was not to keep your prescriptions in the bathroom; yet I’ll bet most of us do just that. He explained that while excessive heat in some bathrooms and higher humidity can be a concern, the real problem comes with folks dropping their pills down the drain, never to be recovered. Just try getting a replacement after it’ been lost, of a medicine you depend on. The same goes for the kitchen sink. Try storing them in your bedroom or someplace like the upper shelf of a hall closet. Someplace away from inquisitive little hands, and away from sinks and drains.

Other considerations to be aware of on where to keep the stuff is varying temperatures. I learned in our conversation that most medicines have the potential of breaking down chemically with exposure to higher heat. In fact, there are some medicines, such as eye drops and certain insulin products that come in liquid form, that are required to be kept in the refrigerator. So keep your medicines in the “normal” temperature range sealed in their intended containers.

The natural question that comes next is: how long can I keep the stuff? Well everything has an expiration date and no matter if it is an over the counter medicine or a prescription from the Doc, when the time is up, get rid of it. We all seem to hang on to the last few pills instead of taking them like we should, because as soon as we begin to feel better, we have a tendency to save a few for the next time.

According to the information given, over time medicines can lose their potency and become ineffective. Indeed, certain ones may chemically break down and in either scenario, will not perform as intended.

So how do we get rid of them? Well, in world where we must be ever conscious of our environment, Marra informed us there are several places in our area that can help. There are drop off containers located at the Michigan State Police Post in Houghton Lake, the Roscommon County Sheriff’s Office in Roscommon, and at the Denton Township offices. Please give them a call before, as they may have certain instructions for you to follow.

If you have more questions, talk to your local pharmacist, and while you are at it, give them a word of thanks. They really are the unsung heroes of keeping us healthy.

Well I’ve been inspired. I’m going through all of those old pills and over the counter medicines I’ve had lying around for ages and I’m going to clean things up in an effort to stay healthy and safe. How about you? In just a few minutes you could be on your way to a healthier, safer you.

Ken Elmore is a member of the Markey Township Fire Department

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