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The Bites Of Summer


Dealing with a bee sting
If you’re stung by a honey bee, look for the stinger and pluck it out as soon as you can. The quicker you do this, there’s a chance that you’ll have less bee venom in your system. Other bees and stinging insects—bumble bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets—don’t leave stingers behind.  Put ice on the affected area right away, and then apply a paste of baking soda and water.  People who have severe allergic reactions to bee stings should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

Spider bites
The bites of two types of spiders—the brown recluse and the black widow—are considered dangerous to humans.

  • From 1 to 4 hours after a bite, the venom from a black widow can cause muscle spasms and cramps, nausea, vomiting and difficulty breathing.

  • A brown recluse’s venom causes local tissue damage. An ulcer at the site of the bite continues to enlarge, heals slowly and may cause chills, aches and nausea in the first few hours.

If the person who’s been bitten is having a severe reaction to a spider bite, call for emergency medical assistance right away. Even if the reaction does not seem severe, medical attention is necessary:

  • Call a hospital emergency department to let them know you’ll be arriving so they can have the correct anti-venom medication ready.

  • Wash the area that was bitten and place a cold compress on it to slow the spread of the venom.

  • Remove rings or anything constrictive, because the bitten area may swell.

  • Place the bitten site below the heart level. Never place it above the level of the heart.

  • Constantly watch for signs of shock—decreasing alertness or increased paleness—and difficulty breathing. Call 911 if these symptoms arise.

  • If necessary, administer CPR if you are able to.

Chiggers are bright red, eight-legged insects that feed on humans and animals. They’re most commonly found in overgrown brush and unmown grassy areas, and they’re most abundant in July, August and early September.

Chiggers don’t burrow under the skin. They inject a digestive enzyme from their mouth onto the skin. The enzyme dissolves the skin cells it touches, and the chigger then sucks up the skin tissue, which has turned into liquid. The result is a bite that itches like crazy.

You can treat chigger bites with over-the-counter antihistamines, hydrocortisone creams and Calamine lotion. Be sure to read the labels to make sure these products are safe for you. And be aware that they aren’t likely to provide complete relief.

To avoid chigger bites:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants
  • Remove and wash clothes as soon as you get home
  • Take a warm, soapy shower or bath right away
  • If you can’t bathe right away, try to rub your body with alcohol
  • Mosquito repellent may be effective for chiggers, but don’t forget to re-apply every three hours or so

Have a First Aid Kit?
You’ll never regret having a first aid kit handy and well stocked—especially during the summer months. Here’s a sampling of the kinds of things it should contain:

  • assorted bandage sizes

  • cotton balls

  • gauze pads and non-stick pads

  • sterile eye patches

Instruments and equipment
  • blunt-tipped scissors

  • tweezers

  • thermometer

  • instant-acting chemical cold packs for sprains and bruises

  • small plastic cups

  • antiseptic wipes

  • antibiotic ointment

  • calamine lotion and antihistamine lotion

  • sterile eye wash

  • candle, matches, flashlight

  • pad and pencil or pen

  • tissues

  • soap

American Academy of Dermatology; American Academy of Pediatrics;  American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Camping Association; American Red Cross; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; K. Handal, The American Red Cross. First Aid and Safety Book. Little, Brown and Company, 1992; Marion County Children’s Services; Medical College of Wisconsin; National Highway Transportation Administration; The National Institutes of Health; National Safe Kids Foundation; The National Safety Council; Students Against Destructive Decisions; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
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