Summer and sunscreen

Before you head out to the beach today, don’t forget your sunscreen. You want to keep yourself healthy and free of melanomas in the future.

Did you know a healthy sunscreen does more for just keeping you free of sun damage? By using the right kind of sunscreen you can help keeping our coral reefs healthy. Using reef safe sunscreen can help! Here is a cheat sheet on what to look for to determine if your sun screen is safe.

Does Medicine Really Expire?

Since 1979, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required that pharmaceutical companies put expiration dates on prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

The date printed on a pill bottle is the date until which the medicine’s manufacturer will guarantee the drug’s safety and full potency. How long a drug actually remains safe and effective can vary.

Some medicines like insulin, nitroglycerin and liquid antibiotics, contain active ingredients that are known to become unstable after a prolonged time period. Yet other drugs and medications may have a longer shelf life than their packaging states. The effectiveness of these medicines may degrade over time, but may still offer some benefits.

That said, several years ago, Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego Division of the California Poison Control System, had a rare opportunity to examine an old stash of drugs — including antihistamines, pain relievers and diet pills — found in the back of a pharmacy.

He found that those found medications, some of them at least 40 years past their manufacture date, still retained full potency.  That study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2012. Cantrell published another study in 2017 showing that EpiPens — the expensive auto-injectors used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions — retained 84 percent of their potency more than four years past their expiration dates, suggesting that in an emergency, an expired EpiPen would be better than nothing.

Although the federal government, the FDA and the U.S. Department of Defense started the Shelf-Life Extension Program (SLEP) in 1986, a SLEP study in 2006 tested 122 different drugs stored under ideal conditions, and the results showed, the expiration date of a majority of the drugs in the SLEP storage were extended by an average of four years. 

 Even so, the FDA still strongly warns consumers against taking expired medicine.

Because certain expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth and sub-potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance, the FDA strongly warns consumers against taking expired medicine.

The FDA also encourages people to bring their unused and expired meds to the National Prescription Drug Take-Back days, hosted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

June is National Safety Month

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. The good news is there are many things people can do to stay safe and prevent injuries. During National Safety Month, everyone is encouraged to learn more about important safety issues like preventing poisonings, transportation safety, and slips, trips, and falls.

Did you know that nine out of 10 poisonings happen right at home? You can be poisoned by many things, like cleaning products or another person’s medicine.

Other causes of injury in the home are slips, trips, and falls. More than one in four older adults fall each year often resulting in broken bones or head injuries.

Doing other activities while driving – like texting or eating – distracts you and increases your chance of crashing. Almost one in six crashes where someone is injured involves distracted driving.

Lower your risk of falling

National Safety Month

Did you know that falling can lead to broken bones, trouble getting around, and other health problems – especially if you are age 65 or older.

As people age, poor balance and weak muscles can lead to falls and fractures. Most falls happen when older adults are doing everyday activities, like walking. Not only do these fractures and broken bones cause pain and disability they can also have an impact on your ability to do everyday activities without help, like cooking a meal or taking a shower. Sometimes vision problems or medical conditions such as diabetes which can reduce feeling in the feet, or a stroke which can affect your balance, will make a fall more likely.

Some conditions that can lead to a fall include: having fallen in the past year; disease; trouble walking; getting up from a chair; or stepping up onto a curb; medications—especially medicines to help you relax or sleep or vision problems such as cataracts or glaucoma

Use this checklist to find out if you are at risk for falling.

Did you know that half of all falls happen inside the home?
It may be time to do a walk through to find the possible danger areas in your home.
It may not seem like much, but there are quite a few things you can do to make your home safer for yourself, family and guests.

  • Have railings put on both sides of all stairs inside and outside of your home.
  • Have grab bars put inside and outside your bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower.
  • Remove small rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping.
  • Use bright lights throughout your home, especially on the stairs.
  • Keep stairs and places where you walk clear of clutter. Pick up or move things you can trip over, like cords, papers, shoes, or books.
  • Keep kitchen items you use often in easy-to-reach cabinets or shelves.

Improve your balance, increase your safety
Exercises that improve your balance can help prevent falls. For example, tai chi (“tie chee”) is a mind-body exercise that can help with balance. Check with your local community or senior center for physical activity classes that can help your balance.

Do strengthening activities at least two days a week to make your legs stronger. These include lifting weights or using resistance bands (long, stretchy rubber strips).

There’s a lot your doctor can do to help keep you safe from falls. If you are worried about falling, talk to your doctor or nurse about how balance exercises and physical therapy can help. Review all medicines with your doctor or pharmacist. Some medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy and cause you to fall. Get your vision checked by an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. Update your glasses or contact lenses when your vision changes. Make your home safer. For example, add grab bars inside and outside your bathtub or shower – and put railings on both sides of stairs.

Use this checklist to make your home safer.