Protect yourself from bites and stings

Image of a women spraying bug spray on herself

With the arrival of dry days and sunny skies, many Sacramento area residents are making plans to head outdoors. Whether your calendar includes camping, hiking or just a few hours out in the sun, be sure to take precautions to protect yourself against insects and snakes, common summertime dangers in our area.

Bees and Wasps

Bees and wasps are responsible for more deaths in the U.S. than any other non-human creature. In a typical year, nearly 100 Americans die due to allergic reactions bee stings. About two million are allergic to some type of insect sting. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include: difficulty breathing; hives; swelling of the face, throat or mouth; anxiety; rapid pulse and a drop-in blood pressure. These are signs of a medical emergency and 911 should be called.

If someone is known to be allergic to insect stings, they should carry emergency epinephrine (like the brand name Epi Pen) whenever they spend time outdoors.

When someone is stung but is not experiencing an allergic reaction, the Centers for Disease Control recommend washing the site with soap and water and then removing the stinger by either wiping the area with gauze or scraping it with a fingernail. Do not use tweezers or squeeze the stinger, as that will only release more venom.

Ticks

As the weather gets warmer and humans become more active, local ticks are becoming more active too. In our area, ticks can be found while camping, hiking, gardening or just playing outdoors. Ticks can carry a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Your best protection is long pants and closed toe shoes. Insect repellents containing DEET can provide some protection as well.

Since no method of preventing ticks is foolproof, it's important to check yourself, your children and your pets after spending time outdoors. Ticks are especially fond of warm, moist areas like behind the knees, under the arms, around the ears and in or around hair.

Snakes

Another outdoor danger that lurks in our area are snakes. According to the California Fish and Wildlife Service, there are six venomous snakes in California. All are different types of rattlesnakes. To avoid an encounter with a snake, experts recommend staying on well-travelled paths and avoiding tall brush and weeds. Pay special attention around logs and rocks, where snakes like to hide to stay cool. Be extra vigilant at dusk, as that is when snakes start coming out to hunt.

If you do find yourself face-to-face with a snake, give it a wide berth and don't make any threatening moves. If snake does bite, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room for anti-venom.

To see the wait times at nearby Emergency Departments, visit our website here.

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