5 Medication Safety Tips for Summer
Now that summertime is here, high temperatures and plenty of sunshine mean days spent outdoors. With the kids out of school, you might even find yourself taking a trip or two in the weeks to come.
However, if you or someone in your household takes any prescription medications, it’s important that you remain diligent about medication safety during your travels. You probably know to keep your medication out of reach of children, but you might not know what effects summer weather can have on the safety and effectiveness of your medications.
To ensure your summer goes without a hitch, keep reading for a look at five medication safety tips for summer.
One of the most important things that you can do to ensure medication safety year-round is to store your medications properly.
Proper storage is essential because many medications can degrade and lose their effectiveness when stored in areas with extremely hot or cold temperatures, high humidity, or when exposed to excess light.
To keep your medications safe, you should store them somewhere in your home where they will stay cool, dry, and away from sunlight — like a kitchen cabinet. Make sure that you store your medications in a cabinet along an interior wall, as exterior walls can be exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations.
If you’ll be traveling by car this summer, make sure that you don’t put your medications somewhere they’re exposed to heat. Even leaving your medications in your car/glove box for a few minutes when the air conditioner isn't running can put sensitive medications at risk.
You should then get in the habit of making your pharmacist your last stop before going home so that you don’t have to leave your medications in a hot car.
Consider talking to your local pharmacist if you have additional questions or concerns about the ideal storage conditions for your particular medications.
During the busy summer months, you might find that you have a harder time remembering to take your medications.
Particularly when traveling, it can be easy to get so busy sightseeing and exploring exotic destinations that you forget about your medications until hours after you should have taken them.
You may then find it helpful to set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take your medications when you are traveling. While this alarm can be useful to help you remember to take your medications while on vacation, you may also decide to use an alarm year-round to help you stick to a medication schedule.
When traveling, you may also find it helpful to use a pill organizer. Not only will this help keep your medications organized on the road, but it can also serve as a reminder as to whether or not you've taken your medications on a given day.
Depending on the medications you’re taking, your skin might be more sensitive to the sun — which could lead to severe sunburns and an increased risk for skin cancer.
Many common medications can increase photosensitivity, including:
These are just a few of the medications that cause sun sensitivity, so it’s critical that you read the labels on all of your medications to see if there is a sun exposure warning. You can also ask your pharmacist if your medications cause photosensitivity.
If one of your medications does increase sun sensitivity, it’s important that you stay out of the sun between 10 AM and 2 PM (when the sun is highest).
You should also try to stay in the shade when you do go outside during the summer. If sun exposure is inevitable, protect yourself as much as possible by wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. You may even want to consider using an umbrella to keep the sun off of your skin.
When traveling with medications, you shouldn’t only pack the exact number of doses you need for the length of your trip. You never know what might happen, and you may find that you need extra doses if you decide to extend your trip at the last minute or if you get stuck somewhere for a few days.
It’s particularly important that you pack extra medication when traveling by plane, as you never know when a flight might get canceled. Packing extra doses of your medications will ensure that you are prepared should the unexpected happen.
If you’re taking your trip by plane, you should pack your medications in your carry-on bag. If, on the other hand, you pack your medications in a checked bag, they could be exposed to extreme temperature changes in the cargo hold.
It’s also not uncommon for airlines to lose checked bags. If this happens to you and your medications are in your lost bag, you’ll have to scramble to replace them on your vacation.
Keeping your medications on you at all times when traveling by plane ensures that you always know where they are, and it gives you some control over their exposure to heat.
Storing your medications properly this summer, and continuing to take your medications regularly when your schedule gets busy, are both integral parts of medication safety.
Of course, in order to ensure that you are able to take your medications as directed, you should refill your prescriptions at least a week before you are set to run out, as this will help to ensure you don’t miss a dose.
If you’re in need of a new local pharmacy to pick up your medications from this summer, check out our RxLocal Pharmacy Finder.