Take care of your medicines during the fire crisis

January 16, 2020 BY

Poor air quality from the bushfire smoke is affecting many people, particularly those with breathing conditions.

With bushfires devastating parts of Australia, NPS MedicineWise has compiled a list detailing how to take and store medicines during emergency conditions.

Pharmacist and Medicines Line manager Nerida Packham said medicines needed to be considered a priority, even when natural disasters are occurring.

“There can be a lot to remember during an emergency, especially if you need to evacuate or find yourself in an unexpected location, but your medicines are there to keep you healthy and prevent unwanted health episodes, so they need to be considered a priority,” she said.

Here are NPS MedicineWise’s four pieces of advice:

1. As much as is practical, store medicines away from heat, moisture and sunlight

“Some medicines will not work as well, or at all, if they are stored above or below a certain temperature,” Ms Packham said.“Others may change form or become difficult to use. For example, heat can cause gelatin capsules to soften and stick together, and ointments and creams become runny.”

Information about the safe storage of medicines is available via nps.org.au.

2. Keep medicines in their original packaging

“If you do need to leave your current residence, don’t be tempted to just bring what you will need in unmarked bottles or small food containers. And with liquid medicines make sure to bring the correct measuring cup or syringe, so you do not end up giving the wrong dose.”

3. Make an up-to-date medicines list so you have your medicine details on hand

The free NPS medicines list is available to download from the NPS MedicineWise website or via the app. Head to nps.org.au/medicineslist for more information.

A local pharmacist may be able to assist with an emergency supply of medicine for anyone affected by the bushfires who has lost or misplaced prescription medicines or prescriptions, if a new prescription cannot be arranged.

4. Check your technique

Poor air quality from the bushfire smoke is affecting many people, particularly those with breathing conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Using an inhaler can be tricky, but good inhaler technique is key to getting the most from your medicines, which could be especially important when air quality is low,” Ms Packham said.