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Essentials for Your Medicine Cabinet

To keep your home as safe and the people in it as healthy as possible, there are certain must-haves for your medicine chest -- items you should stock at all times.

And on "The Early Show" Monday, Dr. Holly Phillips of the CBS station WCBS-TV in New York pointed to a bunch of them, in Part One of the weeklong series, "Early Essentials."

Phillips says having them at hand is really important for a few reasons. It not only enables you to take better care of you and your family, it makes you a better host for guests you may have over.

Make sure you include a wide range of items -- everything from aspirin to personal hygiene products to a first aid kit. Also, make sure you have the right medicines and items for your kids and their friends. The last thing you want to be doing is running off to the pharmacy, especially if something happens in the middle of the night.

Bear in mind that over-the-counter store-brand medicines are frequently equal in quality and effectiveness to brand names. As long as both products contain the same active ingredients, you can usually save yourself a few bucks by buying the store brand.

Phillips suggests keeping prescription medicines separately and under lock-and-key if you have young kids or teens.

Pain Relievers

It's always good to keep a few different types. Some people don't tolerate certain types of pain reliever well. So, have a supply of acetaminophen, ibuprophen and aspirin. If you have children or kids visit your home regularly, you would also benefit from stocking children's ibuprophen and acetaminophen.

Over-the-counter Meds for Stomachaches and Indigestion

Stomach care can be a bit more complex, because it covers a broader range of issues. But a must-have is a bottle of Pepto Bismol. It covers a large variety of ailments and comes in both an adult and children's formula. Next, keep some form of antacid chewable on-hand. I usually keep an anti-diarrhea, and something to control vomiting, such as Emetrol, just in case. Pepto isn't enough. And again, make sure you have some children's medicine.

Cold, Flu, Allergy Relief

Again, we're covering a wide range of ailments here, anything from a sore throat to fever to a runny nose. So the first item to grab off the pharmacy shelf is a multi-symptom medicine. Get one for colds and a separate one for flu. Keep a standard decongestant and a cough syrup around, as well. Having cough drops or throat lozenges is always handy, too. Again, these items are sold in separate formulas for children, which is something you should consider when stocking up.

Also, allergy medicine is essential, especially if you have pets. You want to be considerate of guests: You never know if they're allergic to animals. Plus, many people have allergies, and a variety of different things can set some off. Keep a non-drowsiness-producing formula around, such as Clariton, so you don't have to worry about people driving home in a drowsy state. Clariton comes in an adult and children's formula, so that brand pretty much covers you. In addition, always keep Cortaid cream on hand for skin flare-ups, along with some Calamine Lotion for extreme itchiness. These things are especially handy if you have kids, because who can predict when they might stumble upon some poison ivy in their outdoor adventures.

Firat Aid

Having these items will ensure you're always prepared should an emergency arise, and keeping ordinary hygiene items available will guarantee that you almost always have what your guests and family need. First things first: Every home should have Band Aids. Having some form of antiseptic is essential, as well. Peroxide and no-sting kids' antiseptic are good to have. And a triple antibiotic, such as Neosporin, is also an essential item. And it's also a good idea to have a pair of tweezers for the occasional splinter. Having these items will make a potentially chaotic and stressful situation much more manageable.

Personal Hygiene

Make room for items such as toothpaste, floss, mouthwash and Q-tips. It's always a good idea to keep an extra toothbrush, just in case a guest forgets one. And that should cover you for the most common situations. Also, try to put the personal products within eyeshot, so people don't have to be embarrassed by having to ask for them, which is particularly important when you have teenagers that visiting often.