It’s the time of year for increased outdoor activities. The Huron County Health Unit reminds people to be careful if they come across discarded needles or other sharp objects on beaches, parks or other recreational areas.
“While the risk of being infected with a disease can be low, it is important that people know what to do if they come across a sharp object,” says Michelle Carter, Public Health Nurse.
Sharp objects, such as used needles, glass, razor blades or any item that could cut skin should be handled carefully. Parents should make sure children understand that:
- A child should never touch any needle. Tell them that used needles can be dangerous and might make them sick.
- If children see a needle, they should tell an adult where the needle is.
- If a child is poked by a needle, they should tell someone right away. The child will need to see a healthcare provider immediately.
Adults can safely pick up a sharp object by the following steps:
- Get a free sharps container if you find a needle. Call the Health Unit at 519-482-3416 (1-877-837-6143) or after hours at 519-482-7077 to ask where in your community you can get a sharps container and where you can take it after you have put the sharp object in.
- If that is not possible, bring a non-breakable, puncture proof container with a screw-top lid to where the sharp object is. Use a thick plastic jar, empty bleach bottle or water bottle.
- Use pliers, tongs or tweezers to pick up the object.
- If it is a needle, hold the needle tip away from you.
- Put the needle into the container needle end first.
- Close the container tightly.
- Wash your hands.
- Take the container to the site recommended by the health unit.
If you have been scratched, poked or cut by a discarded sharp object, let the cut bleed freely. Wash the area well with soap and water. Afterwards, apply an antiseptic like rubbing alcohol or peroxide. Follow up with a healthcare provider immediately.
For more information, visit huronhealthunit.ca/needles.
Like all health units in Ontario, the Huron County Health Unit offers a needle exchange program with community partners in the county. Providing harm reduction equipment helps reduce the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases. This reduces risk for both injection drug users and the larger community.