Donation bin deaths: How to prevent more tragedies

A woman was found unconscious in a clothing donation bin at Bloor Street and Dovercourt Road on Jan. 8 2019. CITYNEWS

The bin's hatches, created to keep thieves out, can also trap people climbing inside. "If someone is going to go into your bin and take your product, that's going to have to be how it is for now". The centre also has "mailbox-style" bins, which are considered safer.

Late last month, a 34-year-old man died in a West Vancouver donation bin, while a 32-year-old man was found dead inside a bin in Cambridge, Ont., last November. Authorities cut open the metal box to get the woman out and paramedics administered CPR, but later pronounced her dead at the scene, Global News reported. Tory asked the committee to include safety as part of that review and to speed up the process.

The spate of deaths has led some to call for the bins to be redesigned or removed.

'They're set up in a way to make it hard to have access to the box, to the inside of the box, but obviously not safe enough'.

Jeremy Hunka of the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver said homeless people often turn to the bins for clothing or shelter without being aware of how risky they can be.

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The death has prompted Toronto Mayor John Tory to initiate a review into the common practice of clothing donation bins, investigating the design of the contraptions and the now-obvious safety concerns, questioning whether they're the most effective method of collecting donated clothes off the street, and reviewing their positioning in and around the city, particularly with regards to their proximity to shelters and crisis accomodation. "Too many of our guests who would otherwise have a shot at turning their lives around are dying a terrible death inside or hanging out of a bin".

The circumstances surrounding the incident do not appear suspicious and the death is likely accidental, police told CBC video producer Tony Smyth.

At least one charity said it's actively working to retrofit its donation bins to address the problem.

Five people have died in British Columbia in the past four years in similar incidents.

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