How to Dispose of a Needle Safely

January 31, 2019. Article by: Government of B.C.

Have you ever found a discarded needle in your community or a public area?

This can be a distressing experience, especially if you don’t know what to do. In these situations, many people worry about infection through accidental contact with the discarded needle.

It is helpful to remember that the chance of this happening is very low. Most viruses that could be on the needle and be passed to others will die within minutes to hours when exposed to open air. This means there is actually less risk of infection from a needle stick in community than in a medical or hospital setting.

Community needle stick injuries are very rare, and the risk of disease being transmitted in these instances is very small. There has never been a document incident of HIV transmission as a result of accidental needle stick in the community.  

However, in the event you do come across a discarded needle, knowing how to handle it can ease concerns and help keep you, your family and community safe.

Watch the videos below from Island Health for instructions on how to dispose of a needle safely.