It’s only seven days into the summer season and the sad realities of the world are already spoiling things for young kids.
Cashten Finlay and his mum Beth were walking on Umina Beach on the Central Coast near their local surf club when the three-year-old cried out in pain.
“We were a couple of metres from the path way when he’s gone, ‘ow, ow, ow’,” Beth told the Daily Telegraph. Beth sat her son down to see what was wrong and made a horrifying discovery: there was a hypodermic needle sticking out of Cashten’s foot.
Beth pulled out the three-centimetre hypodermic needle and tried to urge Cashten to the water’s edge to wash his foot, but he refused to budge.
She reported the incident to surf life savers who disposed of the needle. It had no syringe attached.
“I would expect it more at the park next to [the beach], or the skate park or something, but not on the beach,” Beth said.
Cashten had a three-centimetre needle like the one above stuck in his food. Photo: AAP Image/Sue Graham
She took her son straight to the GP on Monday to do blood tests. “It’s two days wait for some results and six months for HIV,” she said. “It’s unlikely but it’s a worry that you don’t want to have at the back of your mind all because of someone else’s stupidity.”
At a time of year when kids and adults are happily walking barefoot on beaches all over Australia, Beth shared her story to warn parents of the dangers in the sand. While Cashten’s injury was minor, convincing him to have blood drawn with yet another needle at the doctor’s office was difficult.
“That was hard to explain [to a three-year-old],” she said. “There are good needles and bad needles.”
Cashten’s mum warns other parents to take care at the beach a have kids wear shoes in the sand. Photo: AAP Image/Sue Graham
Anyone with a needle stick injury is advised to remain calm, according to NSW Health. The wound shouldn’t be squeezed, but if it bleeds, don’t stop the bleeding. Wash it with soap and water and then go to the doctor or emergency.
“The risk of acquiring a serious infection as a result of an accidental injury from a community sharp is extremely low, however you should still seek medical advice,” reads a NSW Health fact sheet.
If you discover a discarded needle, call the Needle Clean Up Hotline on 1800 633 353.