There is no right or wrong way to organise your drug cupboard, in fact there are quite a few different ways you might want to do this. The most important thing is to categorise your medications to make them easy to find when you need them. No body wants to be searching for the Panado in the middle of the night with a screaming baby.
How you group your drugs is really up to you and also depends on your individual family’s needs. Depending on how many children you have you may want to keep their medications separate from yours or if anyone takes any chronic medications you may also want to label a container specifically for them.
Below are some simple steps to help get your drug cupboard organised.
1. EMPTY EVERYTHING ONTO A TABLE
Take all your medications and whatever else you keep in your drug cupboard and lay it out on a table. This way you will be able to see what all you have, what is actually finished and what is missing. I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone in search of the ibuprofen for myself, only to discover I don’t actually have any.
2. CHECK EXPIRY DATES
Before you start grouping your medications you should have a look at all the expiry dates. Here again, you will be able to add to your shopping list of drugs you need to replace. You should throw all your expired medications into a bag to take back to your pharmacy for safe disposal (see my previous blog post for more information on this).
3. GET SORTING
Now comes the hard work, which can actually get quite confusing. How to best group your medications is a personal preference but I find that if you keep it simple it works best. The amount of groups you make also depends on the amount of space you have for storage. These are my groups.
- First Aid (includes a first aid kit)
- Pain & Fever
- Tummy (nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhoea meds)
- Eyes & ENT (ear, nose and throat)
- Colds & Flu
- Vitamins & Antibiotics
- Chest (this includes the nebules and saline for the nebuliser)
I have a daily container, which comes out in the mornings. This makes it easy for me to remember taking my vitamins and any other medications we may be taking acutely, such as antibiotics. Your groups may look different if you don’t use a nebuliser for example, or take any daily meds, or maybe you only have one nose spray that you can group together under allergies. Once you have grouped all your medications together you will be able to see how many separate containers you will need and also how big they need to be. If you don’t have any or enough containers lying around at home, you can get a wide range of different sizes from West Pack Lifestyle stores.
It’s also important for Dad or a caregiver to be able to find the drugs, so don’t get too fancy or try grouping together too much drugs. Mom will almost always know where each drug is kept because more often than not she is the one who bought and packed it away.
4. DRUG STORAGE
Where you store your drugs is important. You need to keep them out of reach of your children and pets and also in a cool, dry place. The bathroom is not a good idea because the heat and moisture from the shower and bath will damage your medication and affect its efficacy. If you choose to store them in the kitchen make sure they are away from the stove, sink and any other hot applicance. I keep my medications in the pantry out of reach of my daughter, the dog, the heat and direct sunlight.
You should always keep your medications in their original containers and do not throw away the information leaflets once opening the boxes. You never know when you need to refer back to them to look for a side effect or drug interaction.
Some medications have silica gel sachets inside them. It’s a good idea to keep those in the bottle because they help absorb moisture in the air and keep your tablets and capsules dry. The cotton ball things you can throw out because those actually pull moisture into the bottle. They are only there for transportation to prevent the tablets from knocking about in the bottle and breaking.
It’s as simple as that! Now you have a tidy and organized drug cupboard, which will not only save you time but also money. You won’t end up buying something you already have because now you know exactly where it is.