January 11, 2019 8:57 pm
Updated: January 11, 2019 11:17 pm

Public in Kelowna encouraged to pick up discarded needles


Finding discarded needles in Kelowna is not uncommon.

With the rise of drug use, needles can be found in just about every nook and cranny in the city.

Ironically, most of the discarded needles were distributed by the Interior Health Association.

And the sheer number of needles may surprise you.

WATCH BELOW: (Aired July 17, 2018) A Vernon mom who stepped on a used hypodermic needle on the beach is warning others to be careful.

Last year alone, more than 380,000 needles were distributed in Kelowna by Interior Health. That’s more than 1,000 needles a day.

For years, the public was encouraged to call professionals to collect discarded needles, with the Kelowna Fire Department handling a large portion of those pickups.

But Central Okanagan residents are now being urged to pick up discarded needles, and that it’s not as dangerous as it sounds

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The City of Kelowna’s website offers instructions on what to do if you find a discarded needle, adding that the risk of you becoming sick is minimal.

The website says “we understand that finding improperly disposed needles can cause anxiety, but it’s important to know that, according to Interior Health, the risk of getting sick from a needle is extremely low.”

If you decide to deal with a discarded needle, Kelowna’s website says you wear gloves if possible, find a plastic container with a lid, put it in the container and drop off the container at a local health unit. And don’t put it in your regular garbage or with your recycling.

The City says that if you’re not comfortable with picking it up and disposing of it, call the fire department.

WATCH BELOW: (Aired Aug. 13, 2018) First responders facing dangers from discarded needles

So if you found a discarded needle, would you pick it up and take it to the local health unit? Global News couldn’t find anyone who would.

“That’s not my place, I guess,” said one person. “I don’t think I should have to deal with picking up other people’s garbage. People do it but especially that, there’s lots of disease of infections that it can cause, so not for me, no.”

“I would prefer to call somebody and do it, just for health and safety reasons,” another person said.

“We are at risk for such things as HIV, Hepatitis C, things like that, and the city is not going to do anything when those things arise,” said a third person, “so I think they need to re-strategize.”

But rest assured that if there’s a needle and no one is picking it up, it will be dealt with.

“If you’re concerned and you don’t feel it’s safe,” said Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting, “then call us and we’ll send someone out to help.”

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