needleA specialized needle disposal box hangs on the wall inside the Thistles Pavilion washroom.

As temperatures warm up and the snow begins to melt the Northwestern Health Unit is reminding the public what to do if they find a discarded needle. Manager of the Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Programs, Gillian Lunny, explained why it is important to properly deal with discarded needles right away.

"Discarded needles are a risk to people and it's really important that people are aware of those risks and that they are able to pick them up and dispose of them safely to help decrease health harms to everyone in our community," she said.

In a public notice the Northwestern Health Unit listed the following six steps to properly handle a needle.

- If possible use gloves or tongs to pick up the needle

- Never put the cap back on the needle

- Place the needle in a hard sided plastic container, tightly seal the container and label 'needle'

- Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer

- Return the needle to your local Northwestern Health Unit

- Never put the needles down the toilet, in drains or in the garbage

Lunny also emphasized the importance of a hard sided plastic container.

"A hard sided plastic container doesn't include a pop bottle or something you can squish. It is a peanut butter jar of a javex jar. Also make sure to seal them tightly," she said.

Lunny added that anyone can pick up a biohazard disposal kit at their closest Northwestern Health Unit.

"If anyone has questions please contact your local Northwestern Health Unit," she finished.

For more information:
Northwestern Health Unit
Health Unit talks needles

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