By LOIS KINDLE
Most of us would actually be surprised to discover how many expired or leftover prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs we keep in the cabinets, closets and drawers in our homes. By hanging onto these medications, we run the risk of accidently using or improperly mixing them with other drugs, putting our personal safety or that of our loved ones at risk at risk.
It’s time to get rid of them in a manner that doesn’t also put the environment at risk, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will once again host Operation Medicine Cabinet on Dec. 1 to help us do it. Contrary to what many of us learned when we were younger, it’s unsafe to throw drugs of any kind into the trash, empty them into a drain or flush them down a toilet. Doing so contaminates the water supply and aquatic environment either directly or indirectly.
The community-wide collection will take place at two venues in Sun City Center, the first from 8 a.m. to noon at Community Hall, 1910 Pebble Beach Blvd. S, and the second from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Freedom Plaza Atrium, 1010 American Eagle Blvd. Both events are free, and neighboring communities are invited to participate.
All you need do is bag or box any expired or unwanted prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, vitamins and supplements, pet medications, syringes, liquids and ointments and drop them off at one of the collections. You don’t need to remove labels or even get out of your car.
“Operation Medicine Cabinet is totally confidential. There are no questions asked,” said HCSO Master Deputy Jeff Merry, who’s overseen Operation Medicine Cabinet for the past nine years. “Everything goes directly into boxes donated to us by Home Instead Sun City Center, which we immediately seal, label and weigh when filled. After the event, I deliver the boxes to our District 2 office on Falkenburg Road in Tampa, where they’re securely stored until they’re taken to be completely destroyed in the City of Tampa’s 3,000-degree incinerator. The drugs never leave the chain of custody.”
Home Instead Senior Care, Sun City Center, is co-sponsoring the collection for the second time this year.
“We’re proud to be a part of helping residents of Sun City Center and the surrounding area properly dispose of these drugs for their safety and the safety of our drinking water,” said David Scott, who co-owns the company with his wife, Michelle. “It makes me feel good to see how many people participate. It shows how much the community cares.”
Twice each year, Operation Medicine Cabinet collects and safely disposes of thousands of expired or unwanted prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, vitamins and supplements, pet medications, syringes, liquids and ointments.
Getting these drugs out of the home eliminates the potential for errors and helps keep medications and street-level drugs, like oxycodone and other opioids, out of the hands of children, other family members, friends, laborers and service providers.
The Sun City Center collections are the only ones left in all of Hillsborough County. Throughout the year, however, residents can take small amounts of pills or capsules to their local HCSO District Command Office. Syringes or liquids are not permitted at these offices.
For South Shore residents, the District 4 Command is located at 508 33rd St. S.E., Ruskin.
For more information, call 813-242-5525.
Important scam warning!
Master Deputy Jeff Merry is warning residents about scammers who are pretending to be representatives of Publisher’s Clearinghouse. Local residents have been receiving phone calls from the “Publishers Clearinghouse Prize Team.”
“The callers claim you have won millions of dollars and a new Mercedes Benz,” Merry said. “They will convince you to pay various fees and/or taxes and ask for thousands of dollars to deposited into banks, and /or cash to be sent in the mail or through the purchase of gift cards.”
“They tell the victim not to tell friends or relatives, because it might jeopardize their winnings,” Merry said. “Remember, if you have to pay money to get money, it’s a scam. If it’s too good to be true, it is.
“You always have time to verify,” he added. “If they insist you need to pay now, it’s a scam. End the conversation and hang up [or shut the door]. And never give out any personal information.”
Some of these crooks will even show up in person to collect the money if they get your address.
Report calls like these to Merry or Community Service Aide Shelby Hillman at 813-242-5525.