What are the Safest Ways to Store Medications?

Although some ointments may keep without problems in a bathroom, most medications should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place.
Medications should be stored away from a moist environment.
Using a combination lock is a way to safely store medications.
A medicine cabinet may be one of the worst places in the house to store medications.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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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.


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