Source – As a fentanyl crisis ravages B.C., funeral parlours are being advised to stock naloxone kits to reverse possible overdoses among mourners at services or staff who handle bodies of overdose victims.

The B.C. Funeral Association sent a bulletin to members in early November explaining the importance of carrying the kits, as the province battles a public health emergency brought on by a sharp rise in drug deaths this year, said executive director Charlotte Poncelet.

“It should be something that you just do,” Poncelet said.

Services may be attended by people who use drugs and having a naloxone kit on hand will make staff better prepared to assist in the event someone someday overdoses in a washroom or elsewhere during a service, she added.

When any death occurs, friends and family are in “a vulnerable position” so if they have a tendency to use drugs to cope with emotional circumstances, the risk of an overdose may increase, Poncelet said.

As well, the association is concerned staff who handle the deceased, such as embalmers, may come into contact with trace amounts of fentanyl left undiscovered on personal items or on a body, which has been a concern for first responders.

“Our focus, from the association’s standpoint, is making sure that our member funeral homes are educated on what to do where you maybe don’t know how they passed away, or you do and you are needing to be aware of residual fentanyl.”

In the first 10 months of 2016, 622 people died of illicit drug overdose in B.C., with about 60 per cent linked to fentanyl.

Meanwhile, B.C. funeral workers are helping more and more grieving families through the devastation of overdose death.

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