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Chilliwack school district steps up needle watch and clean up

School grounds received increase in security as homeless camps popped up over summer
Fraser Health advises anyone picking up used syringes to use tongs or pliers

Security around schools has been ramped up over the summer in response to an increase in homeless camps on and near school grounds.

Staff at Chilliwack School Board has been dealing with the issue by increasing security and staying in contact with the City of Chilliwack and the RCMP.

"We are very aware of the issue with homeless camps, as we have been dealing with it all summer," said Gerry Slykhuis, the district's secretary treasurer.

"When homeless people are encountered they are moved off of our property, either by our security, bylaw enforcement or the RCMP," he said.

If a camp is spotted, it is removed immediately and the sites are cleaned immediately, he said. As well, they have daily, early morning inspections of the sites "well before school starts to ensure grounds are clear."

Needle concerns:

Residents have been worrying over the summer that discarded needles would be found by children arriving back at school.

Fraser Health provides instructions on how to deal with discarded needles, broken glass pipes or other sharp materials found in public places.

The first step is to call the local public health unit (604-702-4900) or community harm reduction distribution program.

Or, follow these steps to safely dispose of the items. First, find a rigid plastic container such as a pop bottle, and place it on the ground near the item. Do not recap syringes or break off the needles.

Then, use gloves and tongs or pliers to firmly grasp the non-sharp end. Use one hand, and always point the sharp end down and away.

Do not hold the bottle in your hand, close the lid, and dispose at a local pharmacy or public health unit. Then wash your hands thoroughly.

And if you or someone you know has been poked by a needle, it's important not to panic.

Fraser Health notes that the risk of infection of HIV or hepatitis B or C is low. Wash the affected area immediately with soap and warm water, and do not squeeze the area. Seek medical attention immediately.

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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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