New Brunswick

Teach your children never to touch used needles: AIDS Moncton

After about 20 used needles were found in a Moncton park over the holidays, the executive director of AIDS Moncton is reminding parents to talk to their children about what to do if they come across syringes.

Debby Warren of AIDS Moncton says most needle-users are responsible but there are always a few 'bad apples'

Dr. Gabriel Girouard found these used needles in a park near Jones Lake in Moncton on New Year's Day while out with his young children and dog. (Submitted by Gabriel Girouard)

After about 20 used needles were found in a Moncton park over the holidays, AIDS Moncton is reminding parents to talk to their children about what to do if they come across syringes.

"It's most important that adults teach children never to touch a needle — regardless of where they find it, whether it's at home or outdoors," Debby Warren, executive director of the group, told Information Morning Moncton.

On New Year's Day, Dr. Gabriel Girouard came across the needles in the Jones Lake area while he was out with his young children and dog.

When he contacted the RCMP, Girouard said, he was told that police don't dispose of used needles and was directed to AIDS Moncton, which has an outdoor drop box.

Warren said if children see needles they should keep their distance and tell an adult.

If people find needles in a public green space, as Girouard did, they should contact the City of Moncton.

"Their dispatch would have taken the message and would have sent someone out," she said. "So if it's in the public area, the City of Moncton would be your first go-to."

Warren said most needle-users are responsible, but there are always some "bad apples."

Adults who find used needles must either pick them up or report them, she said.

"So is it fair? No," she said. "But we all have a responsibility, and sometimes it's about being informed and knowing how to dispose of them."

Never put needles in household garbage

There are risks with picking up used needles, especially if they are uncapped, and Warren suggested wearing gloves or using tongs to avoid being punctured.

"I know when you're out walking you probably don't have tongs in your pocket, but we have gloves," she said. "And it's just about being very cautious. ... Make sure you don't try to uncap or try to cap — if the caps are there. It's dangerous to do that."

Debby Warren, executive director of AIDS Moncton, is reminding parents to talk to their children about what to do if they come across needles. (AIDS Moncton)
Warren said infections from used needles are a big concern, particularly if someone is pricked by a needle.

Needles should never be thrown out with the regular trash she said.

"Please make sure not to put them in your garbage at home. While it might be an easy disposal for you, it's not so good for the folks that handle our waste."

Warren considered the incident on New Year's Day an isolated one and said AIDS Moncton only receives one or two calls a year about used needles.

"It's really the exception to the rule," she said. "It's like everything else. People follow the rules and guidelines and then there's always that odd person who just ... doesn't do it."

She said of the clean needles handed out by AIDS Moncton, about 80 per cent come back, and she is confident the remainder are, for the most part, disposed of responsibly.

Anyone who finds a used needle on City of Moncton property is asked to call 859-2643. If a needle is found on private property, contact the property owner. 

With files from Information Morning Moncton