What can be as deadly as a loaded gun laying in a house where small children reside?

Prescription drugs that aren't kept out of the hands of small children.

Almost daily, emergency rooms treat children who ingest drugs that are in their homes and we're not talking about heroin or LSD.

We're talking about drugs for common ailments like diabetes, sore throats, cancer treatment, and actually some drugs which don't require prescriptions.

The dangers of having such drugs laying around, especially after they're no longer needed, is part of he reason for "National Expired Prescription Drug Take Back Day," which will be observed on Saturday.

You can take your expired prescription drugs to various collection sites for proper disposal from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

These locations are:

Ÿ Summit Hill Police Department, 40 W. Amidon St., Summit Hill.

Ÿ Schuylkill County Sheriff Department, 320 Broad St., Tamaqua.

Ÿ Slatington Police Department, 125 S. Walnut St., Slatington.

Ÿ Lehigh Township Fire Company, Lehigh Drive and Blue Mountain Drive, Cherryville.

A report by the Medical Abuse Project shows that children, indeed, do manage to get their hands on prescription drugs at home.

The report says that one in six teenagers have used a prescription to get high or change their mood, and 44 percent of teens have at least one friend who abuses prescription drugs.

We realize that the above statistics aren't totally reflective on expired prescription drugs, but it is a fact that drugs laying around in a home too long stand a better chance of getting into the wrong hands.

Check your prescription bottles. Look at the dates. Get rid of those drugs that you don't need, especially those expired.

Don't flush them down the toilet. They can be harmful to the environment.

Don't toss them into the garbage. Not only could they get into the wrong hands, but they could result in personal information being leaked about you.

Disposing expired drugs on Saturday by taking them to one of the above listed locations is getting rid of them the right way and the safe way.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com