While the spring melt in Thunder Bay remains a myth as April arrives, when the snow finally starts to disappear for good, chances are it’ll uncover a nasty needle surprise.
On Tuesday the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy unveiled a new kit to help city residents safely get rid of improperly discarded needles.
The kits include a pair of tongs, a protective container, rubber gloves and instructions.
Cynthia Olsen, co-ordinator of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, said the risk is low, but taking precautions never hurts.
“There are no documented cases of HIV being contracted from a needle-stick injury from the public,” she said.
The kits can be used multiple times before being turned in, Olsen added, noting this comes in handy in areas of the city where needle use is particularly heavy.
While most needle users are courteous and dispose of them properly, not everyone is getting the message.
“We’ve got excellent return rates in our city, but from time to time there is equipment that is found in our community,” she said.
Discarding a dirty needle is a fairly simple process with or without one of the kits.
Olsen recommends using rubber gloves and either a pair of tongs or pliers to pick the needle up. Store it in a hard plastic container, or the one provided in the kit, mark it with the word ‘needle’ and drop it off at a disposal location.
Locally they include AIDS Thunder Bay, Shelter House or the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. There are also yellow metal disposal bins situated at various locations in the city. Residents can also call Superior Points to have the container picked up.
Melissa Scott, who introduced the kits to Thunder Bay, said the equipment was designed to make discarding needles as safe as possible.
“I just thought was an interesting idea to apply to our community because we do see lots of calls around publicly discarded needles.
We thought that anyone who sees them frequently, small business owners, people who just live in areas where they’re used, if they’re comfortable using the kits, then why not let them,” said Scott, chairwoman of the TBDS’s harm reduction unit and a public health nurse at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
Olsen cautioned the public not to call police if they find a needle.
“Calling the police if you find a discarded needed is not a core police function,” she said.
Kits are available at the Health Unit, through Superior Points or at AIDS Thunder Bay.
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