Unknown Needles: What to Do if You See a Needle on the Ground – To be safe you always want to proceed with caution. Here’s how to handle a community needle you see on the ground.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors – or even if you’re someone who only walks to and from necessary locations to run errands – there is always a chance you may encounter a safety hazard at some point along your travels. Because needles and sharps have the potential to be infectious, it’s critical that you know what to do when you see a community needle on the ground.
In this post, we’ll review your options and the best way to dispose of unknown needles.
Your first reaction when you see a needle on the ground should be to stop and not to touch it right away. Curiosity may get the best of you and you may in a split second decision bend to pick it up, but if you get stuck with the sharp you could have a lot more to worry about. While infection from a community needle stick is rare, there is always a chance it can happen so you should always proceed with caution.
Walking away from what you see and just leaving it for someone else to be potentially harmed by isn’t the right choice.
If you’re in a public space and there is someone of authority to who you can report the needle sighting, it’s better than just leaving it there. They can come and safely remove it. Or, if you feel comfortable enough and want to get rid of the needle by disposing of it properly and keeping it from potentially harming someone else, then you should follow these steps to best protect yourself.
Always use gloves or tissue if they are available to protect your hands. Grab a plastic water bottle with a lid. Twist off the cap and gently grab the needle by the center of the syringe body never touching the actual needle or trying to cap it. Put the water bottle on the ground and lower the needle into the bottle with the sharp facing down. Close the lid on the bottle and bring it to a safe disposal area such as a local healthcare facility, community drop-off location, or to a pharmacy for safe disposal.
If you are stuck it’s critical to visit a doctor to be checked. It’s important to know that not all needles are infectious and most people who use sharps to administer medications at home will dispose of them safely and in the appropriate way. If you’re finding a sharp on the ground you cannot assume it’s okay to touch it or on the opposite side of the spectrum, that it’s infectious.
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