Infectious diseases & vaccines Infection control Needle safety

Needle Safety


Finding a used needle or syringe is not a frequent occurrence, but it is important to know what to do if you or your child find a needle.


Why should I be concerned?

Used needles can transmit blood borne infections. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B and C can all be spread should someone be injured by a discarded needle. Hepatitis B and C viruses can live for several days on a needle, while HIV dies once any blood dries.  You should always treat discarded needles with extreme caution.


What should I tell my children?

Children should be told to:

  • Never touch or pick up a needle

  • Always call an adult if they see a needle

Show your child a picture of what a needle looks like. They may not understand what to avoid if they do not see what it is you are talking about. Talk about some places discarded needles shouldn’t be, but can be found: garbage cans, areas around campsites, parks, streets, playgrounds and alleys.


How should I dispose of a needle?

  • Find a non-breakable, puncture-proof container (i.e. thick plastic)

  • Place this container beside the location of the needle on a stable surface

  • Put on disposable gloves if you have them

  • Never recap the needle. Recapping a needle is one of the most frequent causes of needle injuries

  • Use tweezers, pliers or tongs to pick up the needle. Be sure to pick it up by the plastic portion of the syringe

  • Hold the needle away from you when you pick up the needle, ensuring that you have a firm grip

  • Place the needle inside the plastic container (sharp end first) and secure the lid

  • Remove gloves and wash hands thoroughly

  • Do not flush needles down a toilet or put in the garbage or recycling box

  • Survey your property to determine if there are any other needles in the area 

  • All unknown objects, bags, boxes, containers found on your property should be handled with caution. Never reach in if you cannot see the contents.


How should I dispose of sharps containers?

  • Several pharmacies will dispose of sharps for their clients.

  • Sharps, in appropriate containers will be accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot, open six days a week.

  • Sharps can be brought, in a plastic container, for disposal to Oxford County Public Health at 410 Buller St., in Woodstock.

  • Contact Waste Management department at 519-539-9800 for information on how and where needles can be disposed of safely.