Storage Strategies for your Emergency & First Aid Kit
Now is a terrific time to consider the shelf life of your horse’s medications and how you have been storing them. These considerations are important to ensure you do no inadvertent harm to your horse and are able to treat him successfully.
The first step is creating and maintaining a clean environment in which to store medications. This is best accomplished by using a container that seals tightly (e.g., a tackle box or a otherwise specified on the label. Too much heat or cold could inactivate crucial ingredients. Thus, don’t store medicines in your tack room, feed room, or horse trailer if those areas tend to heat up in summer and freeze in winter. A consistent temperature is preferred for storage of drugs in liquid and pill form. Temperature affects other first-aid supplies as well – you might find elastic-backed bandaging materials, for plastic fitted with a snap-on lid) so everything inside remains in pristine condition. Keep in mind that metal can inactivate some powders or pills, so these medication forms are best stored in plastic or paper-lined containers.
The next element to consider is temperature – most medications require room temperature storage unless otherwise specified on the label. Too much heat or cold could inactivate crucial ingredients. Thus, don’t store medicines in your tack room, feed room, or horse trailer if those areas tend to heat up in summer and freeze in winter. A consistent temperature is preferred for storage of drugs in liquid and pill form. Temperature affects other first-aid supplies as well – you might find elastic-backed bandaging materials, for instance, frustrating to unroll if the sticky has “melted” after being stored at too warm a temperature. Also consider humidity. A damp, warm environment such as that found in your bathroom can have adverse effects on drug stability by speeding up many medicines’ deterioration rates. Storing medications and supplies in a sealed, impermeable container as recommended before, however, usually protects them from the effects of humid conditions.
Next you should consider medications’ exposure to light. Some products, such as vitamins, need to be stored in the dark to delay degradation. Medications sensitive to ultraviolet light are often packaged in light-proof containers, but it also helps to store them in a dark place.
Finally, remember the safety of kids and critters. This certainly is not the least important consideration, and it should always be addressed. Wherever you store your first-aid kit, be sure it can’t be accessed by children or small pets. This could mean placing the kit in a locked cupboard or high up on an inaccessible shelf. It is also prudent to store syringes and needles in a location apart from liquid medication bottles. You can obtain childproof caps for bottles containing tablets or capsules. If medications or vaccines must be stored in the refrigerator, find a way to keep them out of the hands of curious children who might ingest or inject these substances.
When liquid medications sit for a period of time, sediment often collects at the bottom of the bottle. In some cases these particles contain essential active ingredients that are now no longer mixed in suspension. If the medication is within its expiration date and you are able to return the liquid to an evenly mixed solution with shaking, it might still be acceptable to use (follow label directions regarding shaking).