Stocking a Safe Medicines Cabinet

There are some everyday medicines that you can stock up on and keep handy in your home - remember to keep these medicines together in a safe place, out of the reach of children.

The following is a suggestion of what a well stocked medicine cabinet should contain which are available from any pharmacy without a prescription and will help you and your family to deal with minor illnesses.

Please read the instructions and cautions on all medicines before you decide to use them and ask a pharmacist for advice if in doubt.

  • Paracetamol tablets (for adults) - for headaches, fevers, colds, sore throats, aches and pains
  • Paracetamol mixture - for pain and fever in children
  • Ibuprofen (tablets or syrup) - for pain and fever in adults and children
  • Antihistamine (tablets or syrup) - for allergies, bites and itchy rashes
  • Oral rehydration sachets - to replace lost water and salts from diarrhoea 
  • Cream or spray for insect bites or stings
  • Steam inhalations (or vapour rubs) - for relief of cold symptoms and stuffy noses
  • Antacid - for indigestion/upset stomach
  • Hydrocortisone cream - for itchy skin rashes and bites
  • Thermometer 
  • Measuring spoon or oral syringe

You should also keep a First Aid kit with antiseptic solution and cream, cotton wool, plasters, crepe bandage and tweezers.

Storing Medicines

Keep medicines in a cool dark place, away from direct heat or light sources. Do not keep medicines in the bathroom (even in a cabinet) as they can become hot, humid or damp
Always read the patient information leaflet or labels
Keep medicines well out of the reach of children. A medicines cabinet placed about five feet above the floor that can be locked is ideal
Keep medicines in their original container, so that you know what the medicine is, how to take it, any extra instructions and the expiry date
If you have medicines you don't need, take them to your pharmacy and they will dispose of them safely

Giving Medicines to Children

  • Children under the age of 16 should not take aspirin or aspirin-based medicines
  • Check the dose carefully. For liquid medicines, measure the dose with care. Use an oral syringe if the dose is less than 5ml. You can get an oral syringe from your pharmacy