It’s hot outside! Are your medications safe?


This time of the year is always fun and busy! Beach weekends here, ball games there, and everything else in between. It is easy to live life in the fast lane and never think about how safe your medications might be in this weather. Although your medications may not look any different, they may not work as well when exposed to extreme temperatures. Proper storage is key. Here are a few things you should know.

When you receive a medication, check to see if there are specific instructions about storage. Check to see which medications need refrigeration, if any. If none of your medications need refrigeration, follow these general guidelines. Store medications:

• In their original container

• At room temperature (59°F to 86°F)

• Away from moisture

• Protected from light

At home, a locked dresser drawer or kitchen shelf are both great places to store your medication. Do not store medication in a bathroom medicine cabinet, next to the stove, or on a countertop where sunlight shines in. Both bathrooms and kitchens not only get hot at times, but can also be very high in humidity.

Keep all medications in the same place, except for those that need refrigeration. Be sure that your fridge’s temperature setting isn’t too high because this can actually end up freezing your medication! Insulin is an example of a drug that needs cooler temperatures. Keep unopened insulin vials, cartridges, and prefilled pens in the fridge at a temperature between 36°F to 46°F. Once punctured, however, most types of insulin can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature. If you have questions about your insulin, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

While traveling, don’t leave your medications in the glove compartment or trunk of your car. Instead, keep them inside the car, where you can control the temperature. For medications that need to be refrigerated, use a cooler, cooling gel pack, or fridge throughout your whole trip.

When flying, avoid packing away your medication in checked luggage. Baggage compartments can also undergo extremes of temperature. Instead, keep your medications in your carry-on bag in their original, labeled containers.

Medication storage is not very difficult to manage but is extremely important. Remember that extreme environmental changes can affect how well your medication works. Depending upon your condition and your type of medication, this can be serious—even life threatening. So enjoy your summer, but don’t forget to protect your medication!

Adapted from Health Mart Consumer Wellness column

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