By LOIS KINDLE
Keeping expired prescriptions and drugs we no longer use can be dangerous.
Having them on hand is an easy way to make medication errors, mix up drugs or overdose on them, landing you or someone you love in the hospital emergency room.
It also provides anyone coming into your home, including service providers, subcontractors, neighbors, friends or family members, the opportunity to steal drugs from your bathroom drawer or medicine chest and misuse or abuse them.
That’s why the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Home Instead Senior Care Brandon have sponsored Operation Medicine Cabinet twice annually in Sun City Center since 2006.
Kristi Campbell, of Home Instead Senior Care Brandon, HCSO Community Resource Deputy Jeff Merry and HCSO Community Service Aide Shelby Hillman will be on hand at the next one, Dec. 2, to accept your unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, pet meds – even liquids, vitamins and sharps. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to noon, Dec. 2 at Community Hall, 1910 Pebble Beach Blvd. S, Sun City Center.
You simply drop them off in bags or boxes in a matter of minutes, no questions asked. You don’t even need to get out of your vehicle.
And there’s no need to remove labels, since everything is securely boxed and sealed by Merry on site and then delivered by him to be securely stored at the HCSO District 2 office in Tampa and later incinerated in the same 3,000-degree oven used by the sheriff’s office to destroy illegal drugs and confiscated guns.
“We continue to be involved because we’re passionate about our community, especially our seniors,” Campbell said. “Medication errors are a great concern because they send people to the hospital, causing some to spiral downward once there.”
Merry agrees. “[Operation Medicine Chest] continues to be important in this community,” he said. “The numbers alone show we need to have it. We average 750 pounds at each event. That’s 1,500 pounds a year we collect and keep out of our waterways and landfills.”
Contrary to what we may have learned when we were younger, it’s unsafe to throw drugs of any kind into a trash can, pour into a drain or flush down a toilet. By doing so, we’re contaminating our water supply and aquatic environment either directly or indirectly.
Merry said District 4 is the only one of the HCSO five command offices in Hillsborough County that continues to provide biannual collections within the community to residents. All of the others require their residents to bring drugs directly to their district offices.
Any resident in Sun City Center and the communities surrounding it are invited to participate.
Residents who can’t make the event can always drop off small quantities of pills or capsules at the Dist. 4 command office, 508 33rd St. SE, Ruskin; however, liquids and sharps are prohibited at this location.
For more information, call Merry at 813-242-5525 or Campbell at 813-684-1972.