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
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
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
- Mosquito repellent may be effective for chiggers, but
don’t forget to re-apply every three hours or so
Have a First Aid Kit?
Instruments and equipment
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:
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