Although tossing old medications in the trash or flushing them down the toilet may seem like an easy way to dispose of them, these methods end up doing more harm than people realize.

It's also not safe to keep old medications stored in your home for too long, which is why Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton encourages community members to take advantage of the Harvey County drug disposal day.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27, the public is invited to bring unused or expired medications to the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center, 120 E. Seventh St., Newton. The event coincides with a national drug take-back day.

"It is a good service, and we're glad to be a part of it," Walton said. "... It's a good way to be a good steward of our environment."

The department has hosted about five drug take-back days so far. Walton said the events are designed to raise awareness that having expired drugs around the house can become a safety issue.

"You don't want young kids getting into those medications, and we've seen that happen, unfortunately, in the past," he said.

However, drugs can cause more than just a safety risk they can also be dangerous if they make it into the water system or landfills. Walton has heard of another hazard people might not consider: if you store too many old medications in your home, a dishonest repair person or home remodeler could steal them while they're working in your home, and then sell the drugs illegally.

After seeing the amount of medications turned in at the first drug take-back event, Walton said his department decided to accept unused/expired drugs all year. People can drop off the drugs at the Sheriff's office, and Roy Patton with the Harvey County Transfer Station/Landfill picks them up and makes sure they are destroyed safely.

Although the special drug take-back days typically bring in anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds of drugs, Walton says his department takes in a high volume of medications throughout the year. This week's collection bin is already overflowing.

For more information about drug take-back day, call 284-6960.

The event is sponsored by the Harvey County Sheriff and Health Departments and the Harvey County Drug Free Youth Coalition.