A deep cleaning and reorganization of your first-aid kit is always a good idea, but if you can’t dedicate a lot of time to that project, here are four things you can throw out right now:
1. Open tubes of leftover eye ointment. If you are no longer using a particular eye medication, throw it away. Bacteria are gathering on the applicator tip, making it unsafe for reuse.
2. Any medication that is expired. Out-of-date drugs are ineffective at best. At worst, they may be harmful. Look for dates on all packages and toss those that are expired.
3. Any injectable medication that looks cloudy or discolored. Even if they aren’t past their expiration date, injectables that have been improperly stored can undergo chemical changes. If you notice a change in the appearance of one of these products, toss it.
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4. Any sterile item that may have been compromised. This includes gauze pads with ripped packaging as well as items affected by moisture: If the outer packaging becomes wet, the contents are no longer sterile.
Finally, don’t simply flush old prescription medications down the toilet or throw them in the garbage. To keep these chemicals from getting into the environment, take discarded drugs to an approved drop-off site—many pharmacies offer safe-disposal services.
This article first appeared in the issue EQUUS issue 476
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