One of the unfortunate but true aspects of living in Prince Albert -- especially in certain areas -- is the sad harvest of needles that melting snow brings every spring.
While many column inches can be spent discussing the state of addiction in the city and its many causes, we’ll instead focus on the task at hand.
Last April, the Daily Herald reported that available statistics showed during the 10-month period lasting until the end of January of 2013, the Straight to the Point Harm Reduction Program distributed one million needles and received 93 per cent of them back.
That’s an excellent return rate but seven per cent of one million is still 70,000 wayward needles.
Let’s do a little more math.
A million needles in 10 months means that an average of about 100,000 per month were distributed. It also means that 7,000 weren’t returned each month.
It started to snow in November and it’s now March. If you multiply four-and-a-half months by 7,000 needles, you’ll get a spring harvest of 31,500 fresh needles lying around since the snow fell.
Let’s be optimistic and guess that three-quarters of the unaccounted for needles were discarded either in the garbage or in places they’ll never be seen again. That still leaves us nearly 8,000 to be discovered.
Certainly there are places that you have to be more careful than others. A spring cleanup along the riverbank will uncover many needles. The crews that actually help with the cleanup have no doubt identified many other prime locations for this thankless chore.
Apparently the number of accidental pokes with used needles has been extremely rare. But safety officials in the city put the message out every year in part to remind the smaller, more curious folks among us about the dangers.
Children should never touch or pick up discarded needles, but instead should tell an adult. Whoever ends up with the task of disposing of the needle should pick it up by the end that is not sharp and keep the pointed end facing away. Putting the cap back on the needle is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
It’s recommended that the needle be deposited in a bottle or hard, unbreakable container with a lid that the needle cannot poke through. If there is a needle cap, it should be also be put in the container with the needle.
Designated bins and dropboxes for used needles are available throughout the city, plus public health offices and at the hospital emergency department.
It’s troubling that this uniquely big city problem is a rite of annual passage in our community as well.
In a perfect world this wouldn’t be a concern; in this one, a friendly reminder to be careful is another way to greet that warm spring sun.
Prince Albert Daily Herald