Preventing an overdose

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Oxford County Public Health and Emergency Services is promoting International Overdose Awareness Day on Saturday, August 31 by educating residents about how they can spot the signs of an overdose and what to do if they see someone who might be overdosing on drugs.

International Overdose Awareness Day was originally started in Melbourne, Australia in 2001 as a way to remember and commemorate those who had died from overdose. The aim is to raise awareness of overdosing, and to reduce stigma around drug-related death. The hope is also to spread the message that overdose death is preventable.

Overdoses happen in Oxford County. It is reported that between 2004 and 2009, that there were 23 deaths from accidental poisoning and exposure to drugs, and last year Emergency Medical Services received 68 calls for suspected drug overdoses.

Death from opioid overdose is a leading cause of accidental death in Ontario and has doubled in the last 10 years.

In Oxford County, Public Health and Emergency Services are looking at strategies to address accidental overdose in a way that works best for the county through education and awareness. This year a wallet-sized card was created to help a person recognize the signs of an accidental overdose and what to do if they see someone who has overdosed. The card can be downloaded from the Public Health website and is available at all needle exchange locations.

For more information or questions about overdose education and awareness, contact Public Health at 519-539-9800 or 1-800-755-0394.

If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911.


• Shallow or slow breathing

• Fingernails or lips turn blue

• Limp body

• Seizures

• Deep snorting or gurgling

• Vomiting

• Unresponsive



• Call 911 if unresponsive

• Stay with them, talk to them

• Start CPR (press hard & fast on the centre of their chest)

• Put the person in the recovery position if they are breathing but unresponsive



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