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When Not To Cito?


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Thanks, mtn-man!


BB, that part of the discussion concerned putting sharps in with the regular trash. At one time it was acceptable to do that, they are now finding it really isnt, especially with heavy recycling, more people are handling and sorting trash then ever before.

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Hey, is there still room in the dollar for my 2 cents?


As someone who has worked in a hospital (everything from ER to ICU) *AND* biology (we use needles too!), I've changed far more than my fair share of sharps containers of all shapes and sizes and disposed of a number of sharps too.


First, NEVER recap the needle. That is the easiest way to stick yourself. Second, consider that it *may* be infected, so treat it with respect but don't fear it, it's not going to jump up and bite you. Third, 911 handles all sorts of things you wouldn't believe. I went through all of the trouble of finding my local PD in the phone book and calling them when someone in my neighborhood let their car alarm go and go and go during the night. "No need to bother the emergency number...it's just an annoyance..", I thought. The first thing the operator did was transfer me to 911 when I told them my problem...It's the appropriate tool for this in the future..and even if they don't rush out and clean it up, the police will at least have a location for searching out local drug users (or diabetic litterers) in the future.


Finally, if you are gloved and have a hard-walled container available (hard-walled: THICK plastic or Glass) then you can safely transport the needle to the authorities or a hospital where it can safely be disposed. Bleach bottles are too thin and not hard-walled. If you can crush the container with your hands, it's too flimsy. The idea is that you couldn't accidently crush the container and have the needle poke through. Remember this is only temporary regardless of how hard-walled the container. The needle still needs to end up with the paramedics, hospital, biology geek's lab, etc...so that it can be disposed of as medical waste (usually incinerated).


There are safe ways to CITO used needles. While posting a note to a cache page is still a good idea, it does fall short of what needs to be done, simply because 5 logs later and it won't show up in a PQ and a few more after that and it won't even show up on the cache page so for all good intentions, the danger will still exist and may not even be announced any more. Use 911 or safely aid in their disposal, it's all good.

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Anyone see a dead horse around?...




4) I am a diabetic...so I personally probably would have removed them and placed them in my sharps container...but not everyone has access to one of those (and I would hate to witness the day when a sharps container becomes standard equipment in a cachers backpack)



I just hope it's head doesn't turn up in my bed.


For those who want to carry a genuine sharps container, they aren't very much money, here's one place to get them, bottom of the page.


Alternatively, make your own. Get some 1/2 or 3/4 pvc pipe, an adaptor with plug and a cap. Then when/if you find syringes, you can drop them in, screw in the plug and drop it off at your local hospital/health dept. If you're really paranoid, you can push the tube you made into the ground so you don't have to have your other hand near it when you drop in the syringe. This sort of container would be quite secure for such an item.

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I AM the cacher after Mopar & GeoHo whom saw the needles AND got the same flaming email from the newbie manic cache owner. AND I hold a certification on disease prevention; am aware of proper disposal of such hazards. I do not carry such "kits" while caching, but do have a proper 1st aid kit & still would not pick them up with latex gloves~hold a certificaiton in 1st aid too! This is why I did not CITO. Thx to the post & photo of the needles that Mopar & GeoHo left, I was aware that needles had been there, however, not aware that they were still there so off we went to the cache. I'm not giving the manic the time of day, I'm just glad they're gone now~maniac said he removed them himself~probably not the proper way, but nor is he himself proper. I've been bitten many of times & worry about Lyme & west nile, I am NOT going to worry about other illnesses from needles. I also did not & will not CITO the condoms around his cache either. I DO have lots of respect for the earth & environment & the health of my family. Maniac does not know me, and could not challenge my resume with earth education & monetary gifts towards environmental causes. I AM a Greenpeace card carrying member are you?! $%^&@***!!! Do you live "Green"? @#$%**!!!

There is even a thread about some of the crazy/odd stuff you find/see while caching~ We've found oodles of illegal stuff & didnt call it in~I'm not calling in a 5 foot canabis plant are you? maniac will see for himself~ hope he programs the phone number for the area police b4 going out into the woods. Oh, look, there's a beer can! Oh, look, there's a dead deer! Oh, look, there's a spraypainted-pentagram! JERK!

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"We've found oodles of illegal stuff & didnt call it in~I'm not calling in a 5 foot canabis plant are you? maniac will see for himself"


maybe you should call, that would be the responsible thing to do... There is no reason to start namecalling or using phony obsenities ie #$@^%#!!!!. if this was handled properly you would of not had to deal with the needles because the the cache would be disabled and cleaned already.


YES WE ALL LEARNED SOMETHING:If you find something wrong at a cache site or vicinity, email the owner immediatly so he can disable it until it is safe...that is all I am asking.

and by the way my original log was calm,proper english and not insulting, so stop whining.

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The issue with the specific cache is resolved, as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully the hider can find a better place to move the final cache and unachive the cache. Penty of good general info in this thread, so I don't really want to lock it. I'm closing it for a few days to give everyone a chance to chill out, relax, and have a beer, then I'll open it back up.

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:blink: I am a licensed EMT and although I am a newbie at geocaching, I'm learning quick. I dont leave without rubber gloves in my car regardless (you never know if you're gonna need them) but even when doing CITO theyre helpful. also, empty water bottles or cheap portable urinals from the medical supply store are good impromtu sharpie containers.
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Don't bother calling the cops unless there perp is still in the area, usually the Fire Department will responed to hypo needles in public areas. Also, there are several containers one could "make" and/or carry with you when caching in parks in case one ran into hypos. Just take the sharps to a local EMS/Fire/ Hosp/clinic, etc. for disposal. It's really not that big a deal people.

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As a firefighter I am familer with how to dispose of syringes. I will pick them up and dispose of them. If I can't get at them good enough to pick them up safely I will move them with a twig until I can. I always wear rubber gloves when doing this. I have also Seen some people push the needle sharply into a tree and then break it off. I have never done this and will not comment on this method

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I usually carry a few sets of latex gloves in my cache bag for emergencies. I really don't know there is a way that a civillian could actually dispose of a hypodermic needle without exposing yourself to infection.

Being an EMT since 1998, I have seen my share of used needles. I've found them in peoples houses, cars, on sidewalks, etc. The best thing to do when faced with that situation is leave them alone and let a trained (EMT / Medical) person deal with it. That's what we're trained to do as EMT's... Clean up biohazardous waste after accidents, ambulance transports, on-scene codes, etc., and dispose of it properly.


Generally, civilians do not have the proper training and/or access to equipment or resources capable of properly disposing of infectious medical waste.


If possible, notify the local police and rope off the area to prevent others from wandering in unaware of the situation.


Don't risk infection. Leave it alone.

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Anyone from the LEO/RN/EMT thread care to comment on this solution?

Yes, you could do this. I have (on at least one occasion in my career) used items such as these for temporary make-shift sharps container. I appreciate your concern and thinking. However, once you contain them, you must then properly dispose of them. The best way to dispose of them is to get them to the nearest hospital or ambulance (if you happen to see one nearby). It has been my experience as an EMT that most ambulance crews will be happy to dispose of sharps with no questions asked. Also, many modern-thinking hospitals will dispose of them for you, again, no questions asked.

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"The bottles full of syringes rarely withstand the pressure of processing. They pop open in the garbage truck, leaving the "pickers," who have to sift through piles of trash hunting for recyclables, at high risk of getting stuck with a needle that may be contaminated with HIV, hepatitis viruses or other bloodborne pathogens."


Sorry...I know this is an old thread but I just found it.....and had to add my $.02


My opinion is that the solution is to get rid of the pickers and institute a more reasonable (and less digusting) means of recycling...In our community, we have recycling containers that we put our recyclables in for pickup. Eliminates the issue.


Contaminated needles are not the only dangers for these "pickers"......rusty razor blades, sharp metal garbage, feces-filled diapers etc etc etc all pose severe health risks for these folks.


I think the point I am making is this: While disposing of a used needle in a pop bottle may not be the "best" way to dispose of it, it is certainly a better alternative to leaving it lay on the ground for the next person to deal with or worse yet step on....writing it down in a log book or posting the info on a website is not a good solution. Calling the authorities is better, and taking steps to mitigate the risk yourself is even better.


You can get infected from a contaminated needle by touching just the plastic portion of it as much as you can get AIDS from a toilet seat.....unless you have open wounds, you won't. True, a kid shouldn't handle the needle.....but a responsible adult can (should be able to) pickup the needle/syringe and dispose of it with little risk to themselves......


Ideally, the folks using these would dispose of them properly.....but since they don't we as responsible folk have to pick up their slack so that others wont get hurt...or at least that is how it SHOULD work.....Although these days everyone is in it for themselves, so its no surprise that folks dont want to get involved. :laughing:


But as far as the danger: We cache in places where we can step on a poisonous snake, fall off cliffs, get stung by bees/wasps, get poison ivy, get infected with Lyme Diesease, be attacked from some psycho in the woods and a host of other perils but balk at the thought of getting cooties from an inanimate piece of plastic? Handle it properly and the threat is much less than those I mentioned, because you are controlling it. Education on HOW to handle it is the key.


Come on folks....we chant the CITO mantra but leave dangerous items laying there??? Sure, it's inconvenient to find a way to transport a needle out....but then, I have hauled a stinky bag of CITOd garbage in the back of my truck 20 miles til I found a public trash facility, so thats just me. I say, leave the trash and get rid of the dangerous stuff, if you have to choose one to participate in.

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I think a bunch of people came down too hard on the original posters.


Not everybody knows what to do when confronted with a situation.


Some people do absolutely nothing


Others tell someone else, hoping word will get passed on until somebody who knows what to do will step in


Others will attempt to solve it, whether they actually know the best practice or not.


And others actually know what to do, and even then, methods vary.


The point is, Mopar and company didn't "do nothing" and that's good.


Consider that we teach our kids the same thing, as in, if somebody offers you drugs or you find a gun, go tell an adult. You think this kindergarten stuff doesn't apply to adults?



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So what do we get today? A flaming email for not picking up the dirty hiv-infected needles and trashing them out like good cachers. Sorry, I do not have the proper equipment to trash out possibly infected medical sharps. I feel by posting the log we warned other cachers and the owner.


I agree. If it endangers your health make sure to let others know but leave it to the proper channels.

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I know its a little late to be chiming in here, but I wanted to voice my opinion.

Fist off, I probably would have done exactly the same thing as Mopar and GeoHo, left the area, and placed a log on the webpage saying there were needles in the area.

Was this the best thing to do? Possibly, possibly not. But I would probably have been too much in shock at finding them to actually think totally rationally about it. I think fight or flight would have kicked in.

I am reminded of a recent series of caches around here. Someone noted in one of the logs that there was a pile of dog poop nearby, the next poster did too. I read the logs, and promptly forgot about them. I put my hand in it while standing back up. I then got a bag, and picked up all the trash in the immediate area, and left a bag or two in the cache too. I guess my point is, it is much easier for someone who has seen the needles to pick them up safely, than to risk someone else randomly comming across them.

That being said, what are the actual risks involved in picking up a needle? To be honest, I have no medical background what so ever, so I don't know. Hence I would probably now fall in to the camp of calling 911 or whatever and get them to deal with it. It seems to me like there are two schools of thought here,


1. If you aren't trained, don't touch it.

2. Don't be stupid, just don't touch the pointy bits, and you'll be fine.


#2 seems the most reasonable to me, but not being an expert, I really don't know. What are the risks associated with touching the non-pointy bits? Is it, I run the risk of slipping, and jabbing myself? Maybe I have severely poor hand eye coordination? #1, sounds like lawyer speak to me. If doctors and nurses advised people to clean it up themselves, and someone pricks themselves... Well I can just smell the lawsuits, can't you?


So does someone with some real training in the field care to chime in here? What are the actual dangers with touching the non-pointy bits of a used hypodermic needle? If you can safely pick it up without risk of jabbing yourself with the sharp end, are you in danger of infection?



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good grief, you are NOT going to get infected by touching a needle unless you a. jab yourself with it and b. the pathogen is still alive on the needle. I suppose if you have fresh, open wounds on your hands you would be at a tad higher risk, but then you shouldn't be out caching, you should be at home applying bandages <_<


If you are out and about and you step on a hypo needle and it punctures your skin I would definitely advise taking yourself and the needle to the nearest hospital.


If you simply pick the thing up and dispose of it, you can relax. If you are really worried, go wash your hands before you start licking them or rubbing your eyeballs with them.




If we analyzed the danger of being in a traffic accident the way we are looking at this needle issue none of us would ever drive again.


Needles are inanimate objects. They cannot hurt you unless they are forced into your skin. My advice is don't force them into your skin :lol:

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I had gotten an email from Ibycus asking me what my opinion is on this one. I am a Trauma Intensive Care Nurse and I know all too well how devastating needle stick injuries can be. Even if a person is stuck by a used needle and in the end contracts nothing , many people go through alot of worry...waiting to find out if they may have contracted a disease. I have seen that worry turn into worse case scenario (HIV, HEP C etc).


My personal opinion is that whenever you are around used needles you are potentially exposed. Attempt to handle needles and you increase your risk. Gloves dont really help as its the business end that will punture and penetrate the skin barrier. Would I handle sharps without them? Absolutley not because there is always potential contact with blood on the syringes themselves. But I geuss I am trying to say ...dont get a sense of false security with the gloves.


I would never hold it against someone for NOT picking up needles they come across. I do believe that doing nothing is wrong. If I am correct and as someone else has mentioned, it is the fire department that is responsible for disposal in our city. My advise would be to call them and let them take care of it. Bear in mind that occasionally needles puncture the sides of sharps containers, so even they are not 100%. This is EXREMELY rare but Murphy has to have his dirty hands in there somewhere.


If you chose to trash out syringes, be careful.

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good grief, you are NOT going to get infected by touching a needle unless you a. jab yourself with it and b. the pathogen is still alive on the needle. I suppose if you have fresh, open wounds on your hands you would be at a tad higher risk, but then you shouldn't be out caching, you should be at home applying bandages ...


Needles are inanimate objects. They cannot hurt you unless they are forced into your skin. My advice is don't force them into your skin :P

Oh, ok, I will just pick up this needle here being very careful...Oh no, I slipped and now the needle is in my arm and I have AIDS...what a bad day! Neddle handling is a no-no in my book.


As for my own personal experiences, I recently ran across a pile of freshly used toilet paper on the hiking trail...not in the woods, ON the trail. I'm not CITO'ing that!!!

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Oh, ok, I will just pick up this needle here being very careful...Oh no, I slipped and now the needle is in my arm and I have AIDS...what a bad day!  Neddle handling is a no-no in my book. 


As for my own personal experiences, I recently ran across a pile of freshly used toilet paper on the hiking trail...not in the woods, ON the trail.  I'm not CITO'ing that!!!

You raise a valid point that you could slip and poke yourself. However you would make just as valid a point that if you are out caching you could have a tree fall on you so no way are you going to go caching, ever. Getting AIDS from a used needle left laying in the woods is also a remote chance. The virus doesn't survive in the open environment very long at all. Virii are that way, they require a host to survive, no host, they die - quickly, just like a fish out of water. So, you take a needle from a junkie friend with AIDS and inject yourself right after he does and you have a high risk. Poke yourself accidently after the needle has been sitting for 24 hours (or even less) in the forrest and your risk drops to near zero. The myth of AIDS being spread via toilet seats is only accurate if the infected person leaves behind human material on the seat and you somehow allow this material to contact an open sore. A few hours after the deposit is left the virus is dead and can't harm you.


That's what I mean by over analyzing this issue. I don't look negatively upon anyone who refuses to cito something for safety related reasons, even if it is something I would cito without a second thought. There is no judgement here as to whether one is right or wrong to cito a particular item, I am just saying that the level of risk some seem to be ascribing to needles seems way overblown to me. I pick up and use knives all the time and while I have very occasionally cut myself while using a knife (once or twice in my life) I have never accidently poked myself simply picking up a knife and putting it in the dishwasher. I view this as roughly comparable to picking up a needle. The risk of poking yourself is really, really low. the risk of actually contracting HIV is even lower. The perceived risk stems from ignorance (not meant to be insulting, it means public knowledge of AIDS specifically and virii in general is not at all well informed and mostly fear based).


As for the used TP issue, I wouldn't cito that either. Both the TP and the material on it are easily biodegradable and healthy for the soil. Extreme amounts in a populated area would be bad, but one person's "waste" in a forest is a non issue. I don't really consider limitted amounts of human waste or paper products to be litter at all. As an avid gardener I routinely use manure and paper products as compost/soil conditioners. It is called organic gardening and is earth friendly. The manure of countless species is a part of what comprises soil and paper is from a tree which naturally falls and rots into the soil in the forest. No reason to cito things that are easily biodegradable and healthy for the soil.

Edited by dantonac
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I commend you for battling to take them out or not to. There are people paid a very large salary to deal with such situation. Don't ever touch Sharps that aren't yours. Do you want to spend the rest of your life wishing you should have left it there when you end up with a disease. Call the autorities and let them worry about it. Someone should relocate the cache.

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Some random (and hopefully helpful) thoughts:


The absolute basis for "Universal Precautions" is to treat any item that has been exposed to blood/body fluids as though it were contaminated with any and everyu disease you happen to personally worry about. Any talk of "are you a biologist? how do you know it had AIDS?" is diametrally opposed to this core concept. In other words...those needles *ARE* infected with HIV, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis, and any other disease that frightens you (or should frighten you)...or at least they should be treated as if they are.


Hepatitis C is one of the most frightening diseases facing the public today. I have seen estimates that as many as 20% of those infected with it do not know how they got it, and do not fall under any high risk behaviors/categories. The spores of this virus are capable of surviving outside of human body fluids/body temperature conditions for very long periods of time...possibly as long as 6 months...and "reactivate" when they enter another host's body. Incidentally, you don't need a cut or open wound for viral spores to enter your body...mucous membranes are another path (eyes, inside noses, etc). So unless the junkie(s) who left them there was himself practicing Universal Precautions, there is the possibility contaminated blood, even a trace amount, remained on the syringes' surfaces. Bottom line...you don't need to stick yourself to get a potentially fatal disease from a contaminated needle. It only takes exposure to a minute amount of the virus or its spores to contract this disease. Contrast this to HIV, which is actually a relatively difficult disease to transmit...requires much greater amount of contaminated blood/fluid, and is body/temperature specific (dies within minutes outside of the body).


Latex and/or nitrile gloves are one part of a system of precautions that can protect those exposed to bloodborne pathogens from infection. But just wearing them is not enough. There is a proper way to remove them to avoid exposure...do you know this methodology? What do you do with them after you remove them? How do you handle them? What else have you handled before you removed the gloves? Cross-contamination is a tricky enough thing for those trained and prepared to deal with it...and a hidden time bomb for those who aren't. It's not enough to just wear gloves.


The idea of a temporary sharps conatiner (bottle, etc) is fine for those who have the training and willingness to deal with picking the needles up, putting them in the container, and transporting it to a safe drop-off (all the while avoiding cross-conatminating their self/clothing, their car, and consequently their homes and families). But it is risky for most to even attempt to put a needle in a bottle...akin to re-capping a used syringe.


It is the height of arrogance to suggest someone is not doing enough if they don't just "be careful not to get stuck" or "put on some gloves" and pick the needles up if they are not comfortable or they don't have adequate training to deal with it. It is the height of arrogance to suggest the OP didn't do enough when they clearly though they were doing what was appropriate given the circumstances they found themselves in at the time, just because they did not do what others might have done under the same circumstances.

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For what its worth...


One of my cats has feline diabetes. I put all his needles in a glass or plastic bottle and then drop them off at the vet when the bottle is full. This was actually suggested by the vet. They dispose of them with their own.


Also, most of the biological things we fear from a used needle tend to die in open air in a matter of minutes to hours depending on its origin. Often, by the time we find a needle in the outdoors, it is usually far less hazardous than we might think. Obviously, the risk still exists and we should always handle them with caution, however, If I was properly prepared with gloves and/or ziploc baggies, I would not have any qualms ridding the area of used needles.


This post is not trying to give anyone a hard time, just posting an opinion.


Edit: Also, putting on a pair of latex gloves is not a surefire way of protecting yourself either. I have seen numerous people don latex gloves and promptly poke the needle right through it and into their finger. (Of course, these were fresh needles with insulin intended for a well-deserving kitty cat. The medical remedy for such an occasion? Enjoy a piece of chocolate to keep your own blood sugar from dropping too much from that tiny drop of insulin. <_< )


Thanks. :lol:

Edited by tabulator32
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