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Summer Safety for You and Your Kids

Bee Stings

In the summer of 2003, the Nebraska Poison Center in Omaha received a call about a 4-year-old girl who was stung on the tongue by a bee while sipping from a soda can. She was treated in the emergency room for swelling not only to the tongue, but to her lips and up to her eyes -- signs of a serious allergic reaction.

Other symptoms of an allergic reaction are hives, itching, rash, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and shock. Most reactions to bee stings are mild, but severe allergic reactions lead to between 40 and 50 deaths each year. An allergic reaction can occur even if a person has been stung before with no complications.

Bee sting prevention and treatment

To keep bees away, wear light-colored clothing and avoid scented soaps and perfumes. Don't leave food, drinks, and garbage outdoors uncovered. Treat a bee sting by scraping the stinger away in a side-to-side motion with a credit card or fingernail, and then washing the area with soap and water. Pulling the stinger or using tweezers may push more venom into the skin. For any bug bite or sting, ice or a cold compress and over-the-counter pain-relieving creams or oral Benadryl can help. The aloe gels mentioned above can also help ease itching. 

Watch for signs of allergic reaction to stings, which typically happen within the first few hours. If your child’s lips or tongue begin to swell, or if he or she complains of tightness of the throat or difficulty breathing, go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately. If you or your child has ever had a severe allergic reaction to a sting (meaning trouble breathing or throat swelling), experts recommend carrying two epinephrine auto injectors such as EpiPen. Epinephrine supports blood pressure, increases heart rate, and relaxes airways. Any time you have to use epinephrine, you should immediately call 911 or go to the emergency room.


Heat Illness

In August 2001, Tracey Jaurena, an athletic trainer in Coalinga, Calif., was working on a football field when a friend called her cell phone number. The caller said Jaurena's son Abe, 12, had collapsed during practice nearby with his youth football league.

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