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Health District provides needle clean-up kits

 

October 4, 2017 | View PDF

Courtesy of Snohomish Health District

These items are included in free needle clean-up kits available now from the Snohomish Health District.

Free needle clean-up kits are now available to help residents or businesses who want to dispose of discarded drug needles found in their community.

The program began as a partnership between the Snohomish Health District and the city of Everett.

"This started because of the increasing number of community groups that are doing clean up projects," said Heather Thomas, public and government affairs manager for the health district.

District officials wanted a simple way to encourage volunteer groups to be safe if they wanted to clean up their neighborhood, said Thomas.

"So if they're out there, they are equipped to do it safely," she said.

The chance of contracting a disease from a needle-stick is low, but the proper equipment will further reduce those chances, according to Thomas.

The kits include a sharps container, puncture-proof gloves, safety glasses, tongs, hand sanitizer and a card with some instructions for safe collection.

"There are gloves in the kits, but if you're following the instructions your hands should not touch the needle," said Thomas.

The health district has partnered with the city of Arlington to distribute some of the kits in the north county area.

The kits will be available at the Arlington Police building, although they suggest you contact them in advance to make sure that there are still kits available.

Thomas said that the Tulalip Tribes will soon also have some of the kits to distribute.

The kits can also be picked up at the Snohomish Health District's office in Everett at 3020 Rucker Avenue.

Once collected, needles can not be thrown away in the trash.

"It is unlawful for Snohomish County residents to dispose of needles in a trash can," said Thomas.

Needles can be returned to the district's office, which already has a contract in place to dispose of needles safely and lawfully.

The district began handing out the kits in September and they have already had a lot of demand, with around 200 kits being given away.

"It surpassed anything we could have imagined," said Thomas.

The district initially ran out of gloves and had to work with the manufacturer to receive more, and the kits were unavailable for a number of days, but they are available again now, said Thomas.

Thomas also recommends teaching children not to touch needles.

"Parents and educators should teach children not to pick up any needles they find and instead inform an adult," she said.

More details about pick-up and drop-off of the kits can be found at http://www.snohomishoverdoseprevention.com/clean-up/.

The new community webpage at snohomishoverdoseprevention.com is meant to provide public information about overdoses and heroin.

Following community forums about the opioid epidemic "people asked if there was a place they could go to find more information," and the district wanted to pull all the information into one place.

"We were able to put this together, really to serve as a community portal, not just for the health district," said Thomas.

Currently the website talks about signs and symptoms of overdose, as well as giving suggestions on ways to help, but the district plans to continue adding to it.

 

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