People use needles for many different reasons:
- There are many medical conditions that involve using needles at home. Diabetes is the most common. People with conditions like cancer and arthritis may use needles to control pain.
- Some people inject drugs because they have an addiction. People who use injection drugs have said they do not intend to harm other people in the community when they are getting rid of used needles. They will throw out needles safely if there are safe choices available.
- Everyone who uses needles has the same need to get rid of their used needles safely. With safe disposal, no one gets hurt accidentally.
What to Do if You Find a Needle
Accidental needlestick injuries and possible infections can happen to children, garbage workers or anyone else who might come in contact with used needles. Although the risk of getting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) from an accidental needlestick is low, there is a risk of other serious infections, like tetanus, hepatitis B or C.
If you find a used needle, you can either:
- Contact Stratford Police at 519-271-4143 or the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Communication Centre at 1-888-310-1122 if you aren’t comfortable picking up and disposing of the needle yourself; or
- Pick up and discard the needle following the directions below.
How to Pick-up a Needle
You can pick up the needle carefully by following these steps. You don’t need to be afraid if you are cautious. Do not throw used needles and other sharps into the trash, recycle bin or down the toilet.
- Treat all needles as contaminated. Wear thick rubber gloves. Use a pair of tongs, pliers or tweezers to pick up the needle.
- Pick up the needle by the plastic end (syringe). Point the needle tip away from your body. Be very careful not to poke yourself with the needle.
- Important: Do not try to put the cap back on the needle, or to snap, remove or bend needles.
- Place the needle point down into a hard plastic container. Do not force the needle into the container.
- Bleach bottles are good because they have a small opening and a screw-on lid.
- A thick, plastic peanut butter jar will also work.
- Important: You shouldn’t use a glass jar, which can break, nor light plastic, or milk cartons because needles can easily poke through.
- Tightly seal the container and label it: “Danger: Used Needles”
- Take the container to the nearest needle drop-off location. Do not flush needles down the toilet or put them in the garbage or recycling box.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removal of gloves
- If a needlestick injury occurs, contact a doctor immediately. The doctor will assess the risk of infection and arrange for testing or preventative treatment as necessary.
Where You Can Take Needles
You can take used needles to the following locations for disposal:
1. Community Sharps Disposal Kiosks
- Community sharps disposal kiosk locations:
- Stratford: Erie Street Parking Lot in behind Festival Square building
- Stratford: West Gore Parking Lot – next to portable, back of lower parking lot, Perth District Health Unit building, 653 West Gore Street
- Stratford: West End Pharmacy – 426 Huron Street, at the side of the building
- The purpose of these kiosks is to promote community safety and reduce the risk of injury and infection by providing 24 hour, seven day a week access to safe needle and sharp disposal.
- Kiosks will accept needle syringes individually or in hard plastic containers such as a Biohazard container, bleach bottle, or pop bottle under 4.5 Litres in size.
2. Most Perth County Pharmacies
- Call ahead to your local pharmacy to see if they participate in the Ontario Sharps Collection Program
3. Perth District Health Unit – Stratford Location
- Festival Square, 10 Downie Street, 2nd Floor Stratford, Ontario
- Open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (closed 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm)
4. Perth District Health Unit – Listowel Location
- 135 Main Street East, Unit 103 Listowel, Ontario (back of the Ward and Uptigrove building)
- Open Fridays, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
For more information on harm reduction, or to request the Safe Disposal Toolkit or if you have any further questions, please contact Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267.