10 Things Nurses Always Keep in Their Medicine Cabinets

Medicine cabinet essentials, according to nurses

You wake up with coughing and congestion. Your meeting runs long and you get a splitting headache. You trip while walking and scrape your knee. In all of these cases, you rush to the medicine cabinet looking for first aid help—but 44 percent of Americans won’t find any. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 percent of Americans do not have any emergency supplies at all. And when it comes to medications, the numbers aren’t much better. According to a report by the National Community Pharmacists Association, 28 percent of people don’t refill their prescriptions in time to avoid missing a dose, while 20 percent don’t even fill new prescriptions they receive.

The key to being prepared for a medical emergency is to keep a fully stocked and effective medicine cabinet. The first step: Check out your current inventory and toss anything that has expired. “It is really common to buy things, not need them for a long time, and then when you go to use them they are expired,” says Andrea Tran, a registered nurse, international board-certified lactation consultant, and founder of Breastfeeding Confidential, a blog about all things breastfeeding.

“A tip to manage expiration dates is to have an inventory list of all the meds in your cabinet plus their expiration dates. Keep it handy and check it monthly. If you have a kit, include the earliest expiration date in there.” Tran adds that you should also avoid combining or repackaging and keep items in their original boxes or bottles. That way, you’ll always know what the expiration dates are.

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