Old Medicine & Pills A Hazard To Children; Dispose Pills Properly

Franque Thompson

OMAHA (KPTM)- Medicines can be expensive, whether it's a prescription or over the counter. That's why many people tend to hang on to them, even if they're expired or haven't been used in a while. However, health professionals said if the medicine got into the wrong hands it could be dangerous.

"It's real important that they get unused, unwanted expired medications out of their homes because they're abused," said poison information specialist, Joan McVoy, of the Nebraska Regional Poison Center.

McVoy said poison control gets about 160 calls per day. She said more than half of those calls deal with medicine poisoning--particularly children.

"A little bit over 50 percent are on kids under the age of six who get into products. Most of the time it's medications that are left out," said McVoy.

The Douglas County Health Department said the trash can isn't the best place for old pills because kids can still get hold of them.

The health department suggests not to flush your medicine down the toilet. This is because of concerns of drug residues that can be found in surface water--like rivers and lakes. Instead, you should throw them away in a bag of coffee grounds or kitty litter to make them look less appealing.

For a more secure disposal, McVoy suggests taking the pills to any Hy-Vee.

"They can just drop them off, there's no questions asked," she said.

McVoy said parents who have children that accidentally take pills should always call poison control first.

"9 out of 10 times, they're going to stay home. This is a real cost savings to call a poison center, instead of just immediately running into an emergency room," said McVoy.

The health department also recommends crossing off your personal information on a prescription bottle before throwing it away. This will protect your identity and privacy of your health information.