For Immediate Release: March 19, 2012
Safe Drug Disposal Offered at March Operation Medicine Drop Events
More than 200 events statewide offer public safe, secure way to dispose of medications
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin announced that between March 18-24, 2012, Safe Kids North Carolina and Operation Medicine Drop will provide a landmark number of sites throughout the state where the public can safely dispose of unused or expired prescription or over-the-counter medications.
"I'm so proud that this year's Operation Medicine Drop initiative will be bigger than ever," said Goodwin, chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. "With more than 200 sites throughout the state, this year we can really make a big impact and ensure that drugs don't end up in the wrong hands or pollute our waters."
Operation Medicine Drop is a statewide blitz of events where the public is invited to drop off medications for safe and secure disposal. A partnership of Safe Kids North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Insurance, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Bureau of Investigation, Riverkeepers and other local agencies, Operation Medicine Drop retrieved and destroyed more than 11.6 million dosages of medications over the past two years.
"We will take over-the-counter drugs, prescriptions, samples and pet medication; basically any medication that you no longer need," Safe Kids North Carolina Director Kelly Ransdell said.
Each year since 2001, an average of nearly 80,000 unintentional non-fatal poisonings among children were treated in emergency rooms throughout the country, with medications being the predominant cause of poisonings among young children. Among pediatric exposures, there has been a decrease in the exposures to cough and cold medicines, but an increase in exposure to pain killers since 2006.
Why should you participate in Operation Medicine Drop?
- To prevent poisonings: Poisoning from prescription medications is on the rise in North Carolina and death rates exceed the national rate. Since 1999, approximately 5,700 people in North Carolina have died from unintentional poisonings, according to the North Carolina Division of Public Health.
- To fight drug abuse: Many people think prescription and over-the-counter drugs are safe because they have legitimate uses, but when used improperly, they can be just as dangerous and addictive as illegal substances.
- To protect our waterways: Throwing medicines in the garbage, or flushing them down the toilet or sink, leads to water contamination and harms aquatic life.
Caregivers should be mindful of safety tips to keep children safe from poisons. Children who are less than 6 years old are the most likely to be poisoned. A child's age, weight and medical history will affect the treatment of a poisoning.
To avoid poisonings when taking care of children, be aware of the following tips:
- All medicines and household cleaning products should be stored in locked cabinets, out of the reach and sight of children.
- Keep children where you can see them at all times, even when you go to answer the door or telephone.
- Never leave young children alone.
- Do not leave poisons on a counter or in an unlocked cabinet.
- Never carry something that can be poisonous, such as a medicine, in a purse where children may find it.
- Safety latches on drawers or cabinets, and child-resistant caps on bottles, are helpful in keeping poisons out of the hands of children.
Operation Medicine Drop coincides with National Poison Prevention Week each year. 2012 is particularly noteworthy because it is the 50th year that local communities throughout the U.S. have commemorated National Poison Prevention Week in an attempt to raise awareness about the dangers of unintentional poisonings.
There are more than 215 Operation Medicine Drop events scheduled in communities across North Carolina. To find an event near you and learn more about Operation Medicine Drop, go to the NC Safe Kids website.