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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Dr. Karen Simone, director of the Northern New England Poison Center, offers this advice to help you safely store prescription medications, vitamins and supplements in your home:

-- "If you have pets and small children in your home, the first rule of thumb is that it has to be out of their immediate reach," says Dr. Simone. She suggests placing them up somewhere high, preferably in a locked box or safe.

-- "You should put things in a place where other people don't see you taking them," she says. This includes your kids, guests or even family members so that they are not tempted to take your medications for themselves or to sell to others.

-- "Don't discuss medical issues or medications in public, or around people who may be inclined to be interested," she says. Addicts will go to tremendous lengths to feed their habits, including stealing from friends and family, robbing pharmacies or stores, breaking into homes where they believe someone may have pain medications or even reading obituaries to target homes where someone has recently passed away - all in the hopes of obtaining drugs.

Dr. Simone says it is a good idea to properly dispose of any medication that has expired or you no longer take as a way of protecting yourself from mixing up your own medications, to keep your medicine from falling into the wrong hands or even becoming a victim of crime.

"If you tend to store things like that, you are a potential target for people who may break into your home because of your age, especially if they know your habits, to try to get those sorts of things," she stated. "Would you keep something in your house that you know might put you at risk for having someone break in an take it?"

If you, or someone you know has taken something that was not prescribed for them, you can call the Northern New England Poison Center 24 hours a day at : 1-800-222-1222.

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