ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. – A family's day of fun in the sun turned serious this weekend when a small container of blood washed up on St. Augustine Beach.
Spencer Milford said his 4-year-old daughter spotted the vial of blood and went to pick it up.
Milford said living in Florida off the coast, he has seen a lot of odd things at the beach, but nothing as potentially dangerous as medical waste washing up on shore.
“As my daughter was playing at the edge of the water, I saw something that didn’t look right,” he said.
He said his daughter, Lily, was about to pick up a tube with a bright-colored purple top, but her mother warned her not to.
“She said, 'Don’t pick it up,'” Lily said.
Instead, Lily’s parents picked up the tube of blood and put it in a plastic bag.
“(I was) shocked,” Spencer Milford said. “This is medical waste -- tainted or not -- just right at the edge of the ocean where the kids play -- the primary place for kids playing right at the edge of the shore.”
The Milfords contacted News4Jax to find out where they should take potential biohazard waste.
The answer: the fire department.
“One of our big concerns with that is potentially blood in a vial could still be contaminated with something,” St. Johns County Fire Rescue Capt. Jeremy Robshaw said. “It isn’t always, but there is that potential.”
News4Jax handed the vial of blood over to the fire department.
“We basically take an item such as this and we deposit it into our biohazard containment,” Robshaw said.
There, it won't be a danger to Lily or anyone else at the beach.
News4Jax found the manufacturer of the tube is in Taiwan, but we still don’t know how or where it fell into the ocean and onto a Northeast Florida beach.
Robshaw said odd items often wash ashore, especially after a storm.
“When we have long onshore flow like we had with the storms in the last couple of weeks, we tend to get things washing in, because those currents are pushing toward the beach for an extended period of time,” Robshaw said. “And when you have that happen, you'll see various items washing ashore.”
Fire officials said that if beachgoers see something on the beach and have gloves, they can pick it up, but they should be sure there are no sharps edges.
It's important to keep a barrier between themselves and the object, officials said.
They can fold it inside a piece of paper or plastic bag and drop it off at a local fire station.
If beachgoers aren't sure if an item is a biohazard, they can call their local fire department's non-emergency phone number to ask.