Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Little Spring Cleaning Never Hurt Anyone

When Spring came around my mom always had a chore list filled with cleaning tasks that needed to be done around the house. Chores such as washing the mini blinds, windows, cleaning out the medicine cabinet, dusting every surface in the house, and moving furniture in order to clean behind it. My mom always told us, "A little spring cleaning never hurt anyone," and this is so true.

My siblings and I didn't realize it at the time, but completing these yearly tasks was beneficial to our health. All the dusting we did decreased the amount of allergens in the house, which reduced our allergy symptoms in the spring. Cleaning out the medicine cabinet ensured we were not taking expired medications when one of us had a headache or needed something to take for sinus congestion. Today, however, cleaning out the medicine cabinet needs to be done for an entirely different reason in addition to the one my mom had ten years ago. The saying, "A little spring cleaning never hurt anyone," couldn't ring more true when it comes to properly disposing of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

You see, there is a an increasing problem in this country, and it is the abuse of prescription medications. The medications in your home may be falling into the wrong hands and used for purposes other than what was indicated. An article in the Kansas City Star discussed this topic and how it is becoming the fastest growing problem in America. To read the entire article click here. It was reported that drug overdoses are now the second most common cause of accidental death in the nation, killing more than gunshot wounds and behind only to traffic accidents. So what can you do to help combat this issue? The answer is simple; do a little spring cleaning.

As you set out to do those once-a-year cleaning chores, don't overlook your medicine cabinet. Take some time to review the medications in your home and properly dispose of them to ensure your family, your community members and your environment are kept safe by not allowing prescription medications to reach an end destination that could elicit harm.

Ways to properly dispose of your medications:

Saturday, April 30th, a national prescription take back day will be held. There will be over 5,000 sites across the nation available for you to take your unwanted and expired medications to. For more information and a site near you click here. Taking medications to one of these locations will allow you to feel confident in knowing the drugs were disposed of properly, safely, and did not reach the wrong hands and cause someone harm.

If you are not able to make it to one of these take back days you have additional options for disposing of medicaitons.

Certain local pharmacies have envelopes available for purchase. The medications are placed in the envelope, sealed and mailed to a company that incinerates or properly disposes of the drugs.

Another option available is disposing of your medications at home. This can be done by placing the contents of the bottles in a plastic container or sealable plastic bag. The medications should be crushed and then water is added to the tablets and capsules. The next step is to add an undesirable substance to the mixture to make the contents unattractive to someone who may find the medications in the trash. A substance such as coffee grounds or kitty litter is recommended. To learn more about this method of disposal watch the video below.

The piece of information I would like to stress the most when disposing of your medications at home is that MEDICATIONS SHOULD NOT BE FLUSHED DOWN THE TOILET!!! At one time this was common practice, but it is no longer recommended due to the fact that pharmaceuticals in the water supply can have detrimental effects to fish and wildlife populations of our rivers and streams. To learn more about why pharmaceuticals should not be flushed down the toilet visit the Department of Environmental Conservation's website.

When you are crossing off those spring cleaning tasks don't neglect the medicine cabinet, and remember, "A little spring cleaning never hurt anyone."

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