Northreach Society has issued a public safety warning in Grande Prairie, Alberta informing the residents and those in the surrounding area to be cautious. As temperatures rise needle debris could be exposed under the melting snow.
Mobile Outreach Program alongside with Northreach is plan to clean up needle debris by taking precautions to keep the community safer. Residents in the GP area can contact either organization at the following numbers:
Northreach Society 780-538-3388
Mobile outreach program 780-830-7094
Community Based Health and STBBI Program Manager Lindsey Loset set a reminder that needles should be stored in puncture proof sealable containers. Items that would work for this purpose include but are not limited to water bottles, Tupperware containers or a needle bin. If any individuals would like a needle bin to aid in reducing debris you can contact Northreach and they will provide you with one.
Lindsey Loset: “We recommend using some disposable gloves and then tongs to pick up the needle. You would pick up the needle point down. And when you are picking up the needle, you would want to put the bin or container really close to the needle and not just hang onto it as you’re putting it in, just in case that needle slips out of your tongs, you’re decreasing your risk of an accidental needle poke that way.”
She also noted that people should be wearing close-toed shoes while performing this task and do not try to put the cap back on and exposed needles. Lostet stated that only those comfortable and with proper training should be cleaning up the debris to reduce risk of accidentally contracting infections such as Hepatitis C and HIV and possibly other diseases. If you are poked accidentally then wash the affected area with soap and water as much as possible without scrubbing the area. Let it bleed out, but don’t squeeze the area too hard and go to an emergency room quickly to report the incident.
If there are any individuals who are unsettled about cleaning up the debris but would like to help, training can be accessed through Northreach which will allow you to practice picking up unused needles. This will jumpstart muscle memory and build your confidence which will reduce risk of getting accidentally poked while picking up debris.
It also delves into the above mentioned safety procedures if a poke does happen and discusses illnesses and transmission. During the lesson there will be an opportunity to see all of the products handed out by Northreach so no one is confused about what they are looking for and they give you a bin to take with you.
Once a needle has been picked up, even if it’s placed in a proper container it should never be put into a public garbage can. All needles and debris should be brought to Northreach to be disposed of properly via incineration.