We keep all of our medicine locked away, and it took months to figure out a good system. In fact, I haven’t been super happy with our medicine storage since our wedding – over 12 years ago. Until we started fostering, that is.
Why do foster parents lock up medicine?
Agencies hold their foster parents to certain standards. Though these standards vary from one agency/county/state to the next, lockable medicine cabinets are pretty standard.
Our county specifically requires that we keep all medicine locked up so children can’t inadvertently (or even purposefully) ingest something that could be harmful.
How do most foster parents store their medicine?
Because it’s simple and easy, most foster parents use a tackle box or tool box to hold all their medicine. Then they use a combination lock to keep it closed.
That’s all well and good, but it didn’t really sound organized or useful enough for me. Where would I keep this tackle box? How long would it take to enter the combination every time I needed to take some Tylenol? (I have meds I have to take 2x per day. A combination lock doesn’t sound fun.)
I also worried that all of my medicine wouldn’t fit in one box. We have lots of medicine and medical supplies, and I wanted to be able to keep it all together. And, truthfully, lugging a huge tackle box around the house sounded less than ideal.
On top of keeping the medicine locked up, they also expect us to lock up cleaning supplies and guns. In fact, we must store guns separately from their ammunition (which we also keep locked up). This sounded like a lot of locks to me, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how I was going to make it work in a way that makes sense.
My Medicine, Cleaning Supplies, and Firearm Storage Method
Finally, I had a thought: What if I locked all this stuff up at once? And that’s how we came up with the idea for the “danger closet.” (Yes, that’s really what I call it. The name hasn’t caught on yet, though; literally no one else calls it that.)
So, there’s this closet in our hallway that you might consider a linen closet. Instead, we keep all of our dangerous items in this one place.
On the top shelf, we put our gun and ammo (locked in a separate box, of course). We also store our travel toiletries and stuff up there.
Then we have a shelf full of stuff like extra medical supplies and hand soap.
Below that is our cleaning shelf, which has all of our various cleaning supplies, including sponges and paper towels.
Below that is a shelf with nail polish, extra body wash, etc.
In the bottom of the closet, I have a smaller plastic storage container with drawers full of contact solution, face wash, spare toothbrushes, and other toiletries.
Medicine Storage Rack
And my favorite part of the closet? The medicine storage, which is on the back of the door.
I found this handy little storage rack on Amazon. They come in assorted sizes, and I got the largest one that would fit on the back of our door (which is rather small).
I have the shelves organized by type of medicine: prescription, children’s, vitamins & supplements, adult’s, and then miscellaneous.
We installed a lock on the door, and we keep a key hidden out of children’s reach but still with easy access for us. It’s a great system that has worked well for two years now, even with older kids in the home.
Our toddler is absolutely obsessed with this closet, which may be the only downside. Because we keep the closet locked and store all the dangerous stuff out of his reach anyway (just in case), I’m not really worried about it, but he tends to stay under my feet whenever I’m getting medicine.
One of these days I’ll tidy the cabinet a bit more, add some wallpaper or contact paper to make it pretty, and even invest in some fancier storage containers. For now, though, it works.
In fact, it’s a pretty much ideal solution to one of the small problems foster parents face during licensing. We love it, and a few of our case workers said we should share the idea with others, so hopefully it helps you, too.
I’ll share more organizing tips and thoughts on foster care in the future, so check back soon!