Friday, April 23, 2010

Bee Sting Safety

As the weather warms, you will soon start to see more bees in the area. Most bees and insects will not attack when left alone. However, if provoked, a bee will sting in defense of its nest or itself. Thousands of people are stung each year and as many as 40 or 50 people in the United States die each year as a result of allergic reactions to insect bites and stings. Only a small percentage of people develop severe reactions to insect venom. Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants typically cause the most allergic reactions. Mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and some spiders can also cause reactions, but these are generally milder.

Reducing the Risk of Being Stung - Wear light-colored, smooth-finished clothing. Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoos, and deodorants. Don't wear cologne or perfume and avoid bananas and banana-scented toiletries. Wear clean clothing and bathe daily as sweat angers bees. Cover the body as much as possible with clothing. Avoid flowering plants. If a single stinging insect is flying around, remain still or lie face down on the ground. The face is the most likely place for a bee or wasp to sting. Swinging or swatting at an insect may cause it to sting.

If you are attacked by several stinging insects at the same time, run to get away from them. Bees release a chemical when they sting that alerts other bees to the intruder and more bees often follow. Go indoors to get away from bees that are threatening you. If you are outdoors, a shaded area is better than an open area to get away from the insects. If a bee gets inside your vehicle, stop the car slowly and open all the windows to let it out.

What to do if a Person is stung - For mild reactions; move the victim to a safe area to avoid more stings. Try to remove the stinger by scraping or brushing it off with a firm edge, such as a credit card. Never squeeze the stinger or use tweezers as it will cause more venom to go into the skin and injure the muscle. Wash the site with soap and water and then swab the site with disinfectant. To reduce pain and swelling, apply ice or a cold pack. Apply 0.5 % or 1 % hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or a baking soda paste to the bite or sting several times a day until the symptoms subside. Take an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Tylenol Severe Allergy) or chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton, Teldrin). Have someone stay with the victim to be sure that they do not have an allergic reaction. Do not scratch the sting as this will cause the site to swell and itch more, and increase the chance of infection.

For severe reactions: Severe reactions may progress rapidly. Dial 911 or call for emergency medical assistance if the victim experiences any of the following signs or symptoms: Difficulty breathing or wheezing, swelling of the lips, throat, face or neck, faintness or dizziness, confusion, rapid heartbeat, hives, nausea, cramps or vomiting or there is a drop in blood pressure.

While waiting for emergency transportation: Have the person lie down. If they are unconscious and breathing, lay the person on their side to allow drainage from the mouth. If there is no breathing, movement or response to touch, then begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately! Check to see if the person is carrying an allergy kit containing epinephrine and follow the instructions on the kit.

Allergic reactions to bee stings can be deadly. People with known allergies to insect stings should always carry an insect sting allergy kit and wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace stating their allergy.

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