Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet

Your medicine cabinet can become a dumping ground for old drugs. But Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs says the risks for accidental poisoning for kids increase –– with every bottle of pills you keep.

Those leftover pills are far from harmless. Taking them incorrectly or accidentally could be deadly or land a child in the ER. Especially if you’re talking about leftover narcotic painkillers, such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin. Prescription sleep-aids like Ambien, and anti-anxiety medications like Xanax –– are also problematic. You really want to make sure medications like these are secure –– either locked away or well hidden, out of kids’ reach.

Over-the- counter medicines can also be an issue, particularly if things look and taste like candy. So take care with what you keep on hand. A new, nationally representative Consumer Reports survey found: 19 percent of people hadn’t cleaned out their medicine cabinet in over 3 years!

National Prescription Drug Take-Back day, on April 29th - is the perfect time to turn in leftover and expired medication for safe disposal. But if you do throw them out, be sure to remove any personal information from the bottle first –– and mix the drugs with something unappealing, like coffee grounds or kitty litter, before sealing in a plastic bag, and tossing in the garbage.

Consumer Reports says getting rid of any unused medication also removes the temptation of nosy neighbors or even teens, who may come across the pills and take them.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced that as of April, they had already collected more than 11,000 lbs. of unwanted pharmaceuticals that could have otherwise entered Tennessee's waterways.  

Click here for a map of bin locations statewide, and to learn more about the program, you can visit TDEC's website