With families spending more time than ever working, playing and studying at home, it’s a good time to review best safety practices when it comes to using and storing medicines. This is especially true during the cold and flu season — while the nation is also in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — when many families may have more over-the-counter (OTC) medicines in the home than usual.
It’s smart to keep your family safe from harm with these helpful easy-to-follow steps.
1. Read and follow Drug Facts labels. Don’t take more than the recommended amount of medications, as dosage directions are created specifically to keep you and your family safe.
2. Don’t combine medications. Some medicines may duplicate active ingredients you’re already taking. For example, cold medicines may also contain pain relievers and/or fever reducers, so if you’re already taking a pain reliever, adding a cold medicine could mean doubling your intake of an active ingredient, which could be harmful. Double check medication labels for the active ingredients and only take one at a time. When in doubt, contact your healthcare professional for advice.
3. Store medications up, away and out of sight from the reach of children. Make sure to buy only child-resistant containers, but remember — “child-resistant” does not mean “childproof.” Keeping them out of reach is also crucial for safety. Put them up and away, out of sight and out of reach, after every use.
4. Store other items safely. Any potentially toxic substances your kids could get into should also be kept well out of reach, including, but not limited to: hand sanitizer, vitamins, diaper rash cream and eye drops.
5. Keep medications in a cool, dry place. The bathroom medicine cabinet is actually not ideal for storing medicines, as heat and humidity can affect them.
6. Consult your healthcare professional if you or a family member feels ill. You can get advice on what kinds of OTC medicines (if any) are appropriate for the symptoms you or your family member are experiencing, and specific dosage recommendations.
If someone has a fever
It can be upsetting when someone has a fever, especially your child. A fever is actually the body’s natural defense against bacterial or viral infections. A person’s normal body temperature is approximately 98.6 degrees F, but it may fluctuate depending on different factors.
If you or a family member has an elevated temperature, it may signal the presence of a bacterial or viral infection. A fever is also one of the common symptoms of COVID-19, amongst many other conditions. If you are concerned about a fever, it’s best to contact your healthcare professional.
Your healthcare professional may recommend an OTC pain reliever/fever reducer to help you feel better, no matter what the cause. Common OTC pain relievers that can reduce fever and achiness include acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil or Motrin IB). These medications are safe and effective when used as directed. Always read Drug Facts labels carefully and follow their directions for dosage and timing.
For a fever, it also helps to:
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and help lower body temperature
- Rest as much as possible, so your body can help fight off the infection
- Eat light foods that are easy to digest, like crackers and soup
- Use a cool compress or damp washcloth on your forehead to help lower your temperature
A body temperature at or above 104 degrees F requires immediate care, so contact your healthcare professional right away, or call an urgent care or emergency provider if your regular healthcare professional is unavailable.
Be prepared for an emergency
Make sure you and any caregivers (including older children or babysitters) know how to contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for free, confidential, expert medical and safety advice, 24/7. Program the number into phones and post it visibly at home.
To learn more about medicine safety, visit GetReliefResponsibly.com/covid-19-medicine-safety.