Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Parents, do you know what to do with old and unneeded medications?

When I opened the bathroom medicine cabinet the other day, I realized how full it has become and I began to question why I still have old, unused medications stashed away and what will I do with them.  Fortunately, as the 50th Anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week approaches, I now have the opportunity to rid my house of these unused and dangerous drugs by dropping off the medications at local Operation Medicine Drop Events.

OMD is an effort to provide people with a safe way to dispose of old or unneeded prescriptions, veterinary, or over-the-counter medications.  Operation Medicine Drop Events will take place throughout the state during Poison Prevention Week with the efforts of Safe Kids NC, NC Department of Insurance, US Drug Enforcement Agency, the SBI, and other local agencies, including the Guilford County Sheriff's Department.  The mission is to educate the public about proper disposal of medications, prevent poisonings, drug abuse, and protect our waterways. 

As a parent reading the statistics on unintentional poisonings, I realize keeping the unused and expired medications in my home was more of a hazaard than I knew.  Since 1999, more than 75% of all unintentional poisonings were caused by prescription or over-the-counter medications (source: NC Div. of Public Health).  Approximately 40% of injuries from unintentional poisonings occur in children under 5 years old.  Another alarming statistic I read was from the 2010 NSDUH:  Of those age 12 and older who abused pain relievers in the past year, 55% got them from friends and family for free, including from their home medicine cabinets.  

In an effort to educate the public during National Poison Prevention Week, I'd like to share some safety tips from Safe Kids on medicine safety in your home:
*Always store medicines and vitamins up and away in a locked location, and out of sight of children.
*Never give adult medications to children
*Never call medications candy or tell children it tastes like candy
*Always use the dosing device packaged with medications.  Never use a household utensil, such as a teaspoon or tablespoon, to measure medications
*Always keep the Poison Control Center phone # by your phone and program into your cell phones:  1-800-222-1222.
*Remind babysitters,houseguests, and visitors to keep purses and bags that contain medicine up and away when they visit your home.

Guilford County's Operation Medicine Events will be at the following locations:
Monday, March 19 from 10am-4pm at Pleasant Garden Drug Store, Pleasant Garden
Tuesday, March 20 from 10am-4pm at Midtown Pharmacy, Whitsett
Tuesday, March 20 from 1pm-4pm at McLeansville Lions Club, McLeansville

For more information on OMD events, visit http://www.omd-nc.org/ or www.ncdoi.com/osfm/safekids/

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