The battle against the opioid crisis in South Florida is intensifying weeks after a 10-year-old boy became the youngest victim of the epidemic.
The Miami Police Department released a video Tuesday warning kids and parents about the dangers of fentanyl and carfentanil. A small dose of the drugs can be fatal.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever which is said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Carfentanil, which is a derivative of fentanyl, is used to sedate large animals and is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.
The police department warns parents who are not drug users to still take precaution in protecting their children from the drugs. They say kids can inadvertently come in contact with the drug.
Alton Banks, 10, died June 23 after he somehow got in contact with fentanyl. Police said he must have encountered the drug during a one-hour period after he left a pool in the Overtown neighborhood. When he returned home the fifth grader began vomiting, lost consciousness and later died at a hospital.
The police department warned that children can touch heroin paraphernalia, which is usually decorated in bright colors and with characters that may attract kids. Remnants of fentanyl and carfentanil can be left on the paraphernalia because the drugs are often mixed into heroin.
Officers also encouraged parents to make their children aware of the dangers of these drugs.
The police department offered some tips parents can give their kids:
- Don't pick up items found on the ground
- Don't accept food or candy from strangers or friends
- Don't put fingers in mouth
- Don't rub eyes with hands
- Always wash hands after being outdoors
- Always inspect the area where your child is playing
Police said a total of 177 opioid-related deaths have been recorded in the city of Miami since Jan. 1, 2016, including 37 so far this year. Of the 2017 total, 32 involved fentanyl or carfentanil.
Authorities have made 62 opioid-related arrests in Miami during the first six month months of 2017 and also seized 6 pounds of fentanyl before it reached street dealers.
Officials did have some good news, saying their use of Narcan has dropped 65 percent in the last six months - an indication, they say, that the epidemic is waning.