AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services plans to bolster public education about how to store medications safely as part of broader efforts to protect children and families and reduce overdose deaths in Maine.

Keeping prescription medications safe and out of reach can help to keep children, loved ones, visitors, and pets safe. The department is spreading this message and tips for safe storage by extending its Eyes Open public awareness campaign, aimed at reducing overdoses from prescription opioids, through additional digital ads and print resources.

The department is also reaching out to health care providers through MaineCare to encourage them to talk about safe storage with their patients who have substance use disorder and/or parents caring for a substance-exposed infant.

This intensified work to support Maine families and save lives from overdoses follows the department’s recent initiatives to improve care and resources for Maine people affected by substance use disorder and mental health challenges and to support child wellbeing.

“Medications that end up in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Don’t take the risk — it’s not worth losing a loved one,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew, according to a news release from the department. “Following a few simple steps can make a real difference in keeping children and families safe and saving lives from overdoses.”

Tips for storing medications safely include:

• Locking all prescriptions in a cabinet, safe, or private drawer;

• keeping medications stored above the reach of children;

• storing prescriptions  in their original containers; and

• bringing unwanted, unused, or expired medications to a drug takeback location.

The Maine CDC’s Prevention Store offers free downloadable posters about the importance of safe storage, and the department has encouraged health providers to post these in their offices. Additional information about safe storage can be found at eyesopenforme.org.

Free and confidential help is available through 211 and/or knowyouroptions.me/resources.