Needles all over: What you should do if you find syringes in public

Syringes left by drug users are increasingly turning up in public places, and authorities offer this advice if you or your children should encounter any:

DON’T PICK THEM UP

You could get exposed to drugs or disease, or unwittingly dispose of them improperly.

CALL SOMEONE TO PICK THEM UP

Check with your local information hotline or health department, which can take care of it or direct you to people who can. Don’t call 911 unless directed, or unless there is imminent danger or an emergency.

IF YOU DO IT YOURSELF

You’re not advised to pick them up, but if you do, minimize any hand contact. Use sturdy gloves, disposable tongs, a shovel or dustpan, and put them in a puncture-proof container.

IF YOU GET POKED

Don’t panic. Don’t suck the wound. Go to your doctor, an emergency room or an urgent care clinic for further guidance, as well as possible medical tests and immunizations.

WHAT TO TELL YOUR KIDS

Show them what a syringe looks like and use age-appropriate language to describe why they should stay away from it. Tell them that if they see any to get an adult, who should follow the steps described above.

SOURCE: Manchester, New Hampshire, Health Department

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