Kids and sandpits – a match made in heaven, right? 

Maybe not. Sure, playground sandpits offer kids hours of sensory play (with no cleanup at home) but what’s hiding under the sand?

You just never know, as Queensland mother Kiera Thorpe recently discovered. The mum ventured out to popular Sunshine Coast playground, Grahame Stewart Park in Currimundi with her 18-month-old son. They’d only been there for a few minutes before she discovered two used syringes glimmering in the sunlight.

Syringes found in sand

The needles were attached to an empty soft drink can, most likely holding whatever the owners were injecting themselves with. Kiera found the contraption in the sand right next to the kids’ play equipment, only meters from where her toddler was playing.

sandpit syringes
Image via 7News

Kiera’s husband also discovered two empty plastic packets for needles while picking up some litter. They alerted the council before wrapping the contents and throwing them in the bin.

Kiera admits that the incident has opened her eyes to how important it is for parents to keep a watchful eye over their kids, even when visiting areas designated for children.

“It’s certainly scary,” she told 7NEWS.com.au.

“It’s kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth, to be honest. A little kid could have fallen on them or picked it up and not known any better.”

This isn’t the first time needles have been discovered at a children’s park. In 2017 a Perth mother (and her children) discovered 11 syringes at Mist Place Park in Banksia Grove.

syringe on ground

Even if you’ve been to the park thousands of times before or even if the playground boasts a good reputation, it’s always a good idea to do a once-over before letting your child play.

You just never know!

What to do if you find a syringe

  • If you do find a needle and syringe the preferred option for disposal is to contact the Needle Clean Up Hotline or local council in your area. They will usually arrange for the needle and syringe to be collected within 48 hours.
  • To dispose of a needle and syringe yourself, carefully place the syringe into a hard plastic container with a screw top (such as a juice bottle). Always pick it up by the barrel and wash your hands afterward. Place it in the bin or contact the Needle Hotline to dispose of it for you.
  • Do not put needles and syringes down toilets or drains, in household waste or recycling bins and never let a child touch or pick up the needles or syringe.

Sandpits crawling with germs!

Syringes aren’t the only thing you may find in your local sandpit. According to CBS News, park sandpits are crawling with germs! Sandboxes can be breeding grounds for bacteria, parasites, and other infectious germs, researchers say.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, describes sandboxes as “swimming pools without disinfecting chlorine.”

Some of the nasties found in sandpits include parasites such as roundworms, pinworms, Toxoplasma gondii (a cat parasite) and Ascaris eggs as well as a stomach bug bacteria called Clostridium difficile (C. difficile).

steak knives sandpit

Image via ABC

More sandpit hazards

But wait, there’s more! In addition to needles and germs, you may even come across steak knives and snakes!

Earlier this year a family discovered eight steak knives buried in the playground sand in Rockhampton in Central Queensland. The $16 million Kershaw Gardens play area had only been open for three weeks before vandals took action, using steak knives to slash the shade sails and then leaving them in the sand. Luckily the park had CCTV footage!

Image via FAWNA

Just last year a New South Wales primary school sandpit was the chosen nesting ground for reptile breeding. A wildlife team discovered seven different snake nests, hosting a total of 43 eggs in the St Josephs Catholic primary school sandpit. Although experts are unsure if they were eastern brown snake eggs (yuck) or lizard eggs, the story definitely scared us away from sandpits for a while!

Bottom line? Always check the park playground before letting the kids in the sandpit. Or, better still, stick to the swings and the slippery dip.

Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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