Your family’s medicine cabinet checklist


My mother always kept stock of a few medicinal items. The variety of medication wasn't wide, but if something like a cough, a snotty nose or a sore stomach cropped up, she was able to manage it.

To this day, she still keeps the same bottle of cough syrup and canister of flu tablets on her pedestal; It's convenient.

Parents should have a first aid kit on hand, but coupled with this should be a medicine cabinet that has been carefully stocked to serve the needs of the family.

Your medicine cabinet shouldn't resemble a pharmacy, but you should have the basics to stop an illness from getting worse, or manage it until you are able to see a health professional.

Retired nurse, Nadia de Bruyn, advises that parents should be cautious about simply administering medication to their children at the first sign of possible illness. "Sometimes parents give their children medication and it masks something which could be more serious or complicated. Therefore parents need to be careful about watching their children closely to see the symptoms they're presenting, especially in younger children and infants.

There are also occasions where parents should not administer anything to their children, but rather watch them closely, take note of the symptoms and proceed to seeing a health professional instead," says de Bruyn.

There are a few items which parents should keep on hand for simple symptoms.

Sister De Bryun recommends that a pain and fever syrup, such as Panado, should be kept on hand. Parents should also keep an electrolyte solution for when someone has a runny tummy. Something for nausea and vomiting should also be kept in stock, along with something for skin ailments, such as calamine lotion and a topical ointment for itchiness and bites.

Other items which parents could keep on hand would be antihistamines for allergies, a bottle of pectin which aids in binding a runny tummy and nasal decongestants.

Over-the-counter or prescription medication should not be stored in the bathroom or kitchen, because these environments are unstable. The moisture in the bathroom or the heat in the kitchen could cause medication to lose potency or in rare situations, become toxic.

The ideal, more stable environment to store medication would be in a linen or bedroom closet.

Pharmacies are stocked with numerous types of medication on which parents can stock up. De Bruyn recommends parents should consult family pharmacists on the suitable "schedule zero, one and two" medicines which are best suited to their children's ages and if present, allergies. A prescription from a health professional is not required when purchasing these scheduled medicines.

Click on the checklist below to print a copy for your home:

What medication do you keep on hand for your children? Do you keep your medicine cabinet stocked regularly? Let us know - email

Nadia de Bruyn is a retired professional nurse, who formally worked with children with special needs in the Western Cape.

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