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Around Our Town - Safety

Bees, Bugs, Bites, and Bumps - Spring's Here!

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05/01/2010 - Whew! It's been quite the winter. Record snowfalls led to fabulous skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling while increasing heart attacks from shoveling, pile-ups on the highways, and frostbitten fingers and toes. Finally, Spring is here and our worries are over!

Well, sort of. With the new greening of life comes the new wave of burgeoning wildlife. Warmer temperatures, melting snow, and more sunshine inspires our energy levels along with the awakening of plants and bugs, creating hazards for humans and pets, alike.

In previous articles we have addressed 'Anaphylaxis' – a severe allergic reaction caused by any allergen, but most commonly associated with bee stings. Truly a life-threatening condition, a person experiencing such a reaction needs medical attention immediately as the airway shuts off from both tongue and bronchial swelling.

Bees can also create problems for our pets. My 'wannabe tracker dog' tries to catch and play with them until she decides the tasty crunch is better than the chase, something that required a vet run last year from multiple stings.

I have also learned young females, for the most part, don't like spiders, based on the screams that accompany the discovery. Black widows like hiding around the garden or porch and they deliver a mean bite that affects a person's entire nervous system. The bite may not be lethal, but it surely makes the bitten person 'hope' that it is until recovery happens a couple days later. Brown recluse spider bites are nasty. Instant pain at the bite site, followed by continuing necrosis (death) of the surrounding tissue, until a couple days later there is an open ulceration – the clue that tells you it isn't going away – that will require medical attention and surgical removal of the 'dead' parts.

If you find a spider on your person, brush it off rather than mashing it as it can still potentially bite during the mashing process. The diligent search of where it went after flinging it from your body seems healthier than the bite and the 'residue' of the mash affect on you and your clothes.

Got a tick? Don't squeeze it to pull it off. That just continues to inject tick juice directly into the bite site. I also don't suggest blowtorching it off with a match. That is your (or your pet's) skin, after all. Instead, locate tweezers and grab the tick as closely to the tick's head (the skin) as you can. Pull straight up so the head of the tick stays attached – to the tick, not you. For a couple dollars you can purchase a plastic tick remover – it works really well with one fell swoop and let's you decide what to do with the tick, now stuck in the remover.

Poison ivy and other 'greenery' must be cleansed from the skin with mild soap and water. For serious cases, ask the doctor or pharmacist for the specialty 'ivy remover' and follow the instructions.

I am ready for Spring! Bring it on. Enjoy it and stay safe at home.

Randy DeVaul (safetypro@roadrunner.com) is a 30-year safety professional, emergency response instructor, and creator of 'Safe At Home' (www.safeathomeonline.com). Comments are always welcome.

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