It’s finally summer and we’re all ready for a change of pace. The backyard, beach, and all outdoors beckon and we’re all too ready to oblige.
Before you head out, how about a few tips from our friends at AARP Magazine to keep you safe and comfortable?
Bugs, Bites, and Stings
Wasps are aggressive, so hightail it out of there if you disturb a nest. If a wasp gets you, remove the stinger with a fingernail or tweezers and apply a topical antihistamine.
Swarming bees are not usually after you; they're protecting the queen. But if a swarm does attack, cover your nose and mouth, then call 911. Stings can be deadly.
Repellents with DEET work best. Want to go chemical-free? Keep the bloodsuckers at bay with citronella or a fan — or try soybean oil on your skin.
Ticks can transmit diseases and are notoriously hard to avoid, but tucking long pants into your socks and wearing long-sleeved shirts are a good first defense. Plus, consider planting American beautyberry. Crush the leaves and rub them on your skin to release chemicals that repel ticks and also mosquitoes, advise scientists at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service. If you do find a tick, use tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible and pull up with steady, even pressure, making sure you get the whole bug. Clean the bite and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. If the area shows a target-shaped rash afterward, see your doctor — it could be a sign of Lyme disease.
If tentacles are sticking to the skin, rinse with salt water and scrape off barbs with a Popsicle stick or credit card. Depending on the type of jellyfish, vinegar can stop the stingers from continuing to fire, says Joseph Burnett, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Don't believe the old wives' tale that urine can relieve the pain of a jellyfish sting. It won't help.
No blog about stings and bites would be complete without mentioning those pesky fire ants. Fire ants are sensitive to vibration or movement and tend to sting when the object they are on moves. For example, when fire ants swarn up a person's leg, the person jerks or moves. Usually, whatever causes one ant to bite and sting triggers the other ants to sting to the same response.
If you get stung, there isn’t much you can do except watch the affected area for excessive swelling, itching or redness, or other symptoms like shortness of breath, thickening of the tongue, sweating, etc. that could indicate a severe systemic allergic reaction. If this occurs, seek medical attention. Otherwise treat stings as you would stings of other insects and keep them clean and intact to avoid secondary infections. For FAQs from the Texas Extension Service and information on getting rid of fire ants, click here.
A splinter in your thumb
First, cut a square from a banana peel and put it white-side down on the splinter. Then cover it with a bandage. The enzymes in the peel will draw out the splinter. No banana? Spread Elmer's glue on the splinter, let it dry and peel it off.
Sand in your eye
Rinse your eye with saline solution if you have it, plain water if you don't, says Jerry Sebag, an ophthalmologist in Huntington Beach, Calif. Rinse for three minutes, then apply eyedrops. Close your eyes and cover them with a cool compress for 10 minutes to reduce inflammation. Warning: Don't rub — doing so could scratch your cornea, a painful condition indeed.
Your internal cooling system doesn't work as well as you age, so if you're feeling dizzy or light-headed and your skin is clammy, those are sure signs you're becoming overheated. Immediately find shade and elevate your feet, then rehydrate with cool water. (Avoid ice water, which is not as easily absorbed.) Pouring cool water on your wrists and feet can also help lower your body temp more quickly.
We’re wishing you a fun-filled, safe summer. When you have questions about insurance or want to shop your coverage we invite you to call us.
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