One of the issues facing a person with diabetes when they travel
is how to dispose of sharps.
Sharps are any medical item that can puncture or cut the skin.
Sharps common in managing diabetes include syringes, pen needles
and lancets (finger prickers).
It's important for the health and safety of all people who
handle medical or general waste that used sharps are properly
Appropriate disposal reduces the risk of contamination and
disease transmission to those who handle this type of waste.
When disposing of sharps, it's ideal to use a yellow sharps
container that can be bought from any pharmacy, some council
facilities or specialist supplies stores.
These travel cylinders come in a range of small sizes that are
convenient to store in a small bag along with insulin and unused
needles. This could be a pen needle pocket container that can fit
in your pocket.
You may like to go to your local community health service as
they often have a sharps container supply department that can give
you a container at no cost (they usually require your
To dispose of sharps at home, a strong container made from
thick, heavy plastic with a tight-fitting or childproof lid is
handy. An example is a used laundry detergent container.
The use of glass, tin, aluminium or soft drink containers is not
recommended as a method of disposal of sharps as they are not
shatter or puncture proof.
The Australian Department of Health advises that the ability to
dispose of sharps in domestic waste is governed by each state's
In Queensland, it's recommended that you check with your local
council waste disposal section as some councils allow medical
sharps to be disposed of in domestic waste, (not recycling), if
sharps are in approved or hard plastic walled containers.
The recommended safe and accessible places to dispose of medical
sharps in Australia are participating pharmacies, public hospitals
and council sharps disposal bins found in public amenities or some
community health centres.
Be aware that some of these facilities will only accept sharps
disposal if they are in yellow medical sharps containers.
If you are on the go, safesharps.org.au website is a great
resource to find locations for safe disposal of sharps.
It requires a current location, for example a town, and then
will provide a list of safe sharps disposal locations on a map.
A Safe Sharps app that can be downloaded on a smart phone is
available through Google Play or Apple App store.
There is also the option to advise the website of unlisted
sharps disposal locations so that the website can provide
It's important to be aware of rules about carrying sharps when
travelling on an airplane.
Airlines in Australia have various policies regarding travelling
with medical sharps in carry-on luggage.
You will require some form of identification that confirms your
medical condition, such as a doctor's letter, a prescription or
even your National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) card.
Other requirements to allow medical sharps onboard flights
include the accompanying medication to be clearly labelled and
packed with medical sharp, and restricting the amount of sharps
packed to what's appropriate for the duration of the flight.
The key to travelling with diabetes is to be prepared.
Check ahead with your local destination information service or
accommodation facilities regarding appropriate sharps disposal
services, have relevant documentation packed if travelling by air,
and enjoy a hassle-free trip.