In order to be prepared for any emergency, one of the first things you need to do is to keep your medicine cabinet (this will be your home pharmacy) well-stocked.

However, this can be confusing. There are countless types of medications being manufactured, and most medical providers can’t give you working knowledge on every single one in circulation. This means that certain medicines that are available in certain countries may not be readily available in Singapore, and vice versa.

But the good news is that by following some guidelines, you don’t have to worry. Here’s what you can do to get started:

1. Make a list of the different medications your medicine cabinet will need.

Most of the time, this will consist of over-the-counter medicines, such as the following:

  • Pain and fever medication – For reducing symptoms of high fever and providing relief from mild headaches or migraine, paracetamol should be a staple in any medicine cabinet.
  • Topical Antibiotics – Ointments that reduce minor skin infections come in different kinds, all of which are just as effective.
  • Antifungal – Athlete’s feet, fungal rashes, or even yeast infections can be easily treated with over-the-counter antifungal medication. 
  • Mild Laxative – Constipation and low bowel movement are things that can be alleviated with a mild laxative, such as docusate sodium.
  • Antihistamine –You can control non-stop itchy nasal allergies or dry up a watery nose using over-the-counter antihistamines.
  • Decongestant – Congested noses in the house will be sure to thank the existence of decongestants after a hard rain. Be sure to take them during the day so that you can blow your nose.
  • Cough Medicine – Be sure to know the difference between the two types: expectorants (which makes you cough by loosening up mucus), and suppressants (which control or reduce coughing).

Don’t forget the other non-medicines that need to be in your cabinet! Items such as antiseptics (rubbing alcohol, Betadine, etc.), Band-Aids, bandages, gauze, medical tape, or anything that you would see in a first-aid kit are also needed.

You should also keep in mind that your medicine cabinet should be far away from any sources of heat and moisture. This allows them to keep for longer.

Tip: Don’t buy hydrogen peroxide – it has no effect on wounds and only makes them take longer to heal.

2. Keep an inventory of how often you’re using them.

While you think this shouldn’t matter (people don’t often get sick), it’s easy to rush to your medicine cabinet only to find that either you ran out of one particular type of medicine or that the medicine is already expired.

Throw out medicines that are past their expiry date and restock with ones that aren’t expired. Always be sure to check the label.

3. Know when to see a doctor.

If certain symptoms persist after a few days despite taking the over-the-counter medications, consider seeing a doctor immediately for early diagnosis and treatment.