File Photo – Crystal Lake Fire Rescue | LMCS File

Authorities are warning the public and offering safety tips after recently identifying an increase in suspected overdose deaths in McHenry County.

The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) said Tuesday there has been an increase in deaths, suspected from overdoses, in the county.

The department did not provide specific numbers or say what date the increase was first seen.

Health officials say the deaths have not been confirmed as opioid-related yet but most overdose deaths in McHenry County are caused by opioids, most often fentanyl.

Fentanyl, which is highly lethal, is becoming more common in illicit drugs.

The health department said fentanyl is often found in counterfeit pills, even those sold as “legitimate prescription medications” obtained unlawfully.

“MCDH and its partners want everyone to remain safe and ensure they have the supplies they need,” the department said.

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Fentanyl test strips, which can be used to detect fentanyl in all types of drugs, can help prevent an overdose.

Naloxone, also referred to as Narcan, can help reverse an overdose.

Fentanyl test strips and Narcan are available for free from the health department at their Crystal Lake and Woodstock offices. Those interested can call 815-334-4500.

Supplies are also available for free at MCDH Narcan vending machines located at The Other Side Café and Sober Bar in Crystal Lake, McHenry County College cafeteria in Crystal Lake, Community Health Partnership in Harvard and Family Center of McHenry County in McHenry.