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Surviving Summer

Follow these safety and first-aid tips and avoid calling 911 later.

Where the Wild Things Are continued...

Bees and wasps offer the greatest chance of acute reactions that can be serious, he says.

"Many people already know that they are highly allergic to the venom in bee and wasp stings and are prepared with an EpiPen to avoid having to rush off to the ER," he says. An EpiPen injects epinephrine to prevent a severe allergic reaction. Signs of a severe, life-threatening reaction include dizziness due to a drop in blood pressure and an inability to breathe from swelling in the nose and throat.

But people who don't know yet that they are allergic can have a problem when they get stung. Here's how you know: Hives develop very quickly if you are allergic. "When bees or wasps sting, they go deep, and the venom gets into lungs and then the heart pumps more quickly, and within a minute, you will start feeling something, and within minutes, you will definitely know that you are having a reaction," Pennisi says.

People who are not allergic may only get a reaction where the sting took place, he says.

But any reaction can be made worse by multiple stings. "The greatest chance of multi-stings from bees, wasps, or hornets is when you approach their nest or hive," Pennisi says.

If this happens, "run like hell" to minimize number of bites, he advises.

Make sure to get the stinger out quickly. Use a credit card or a blunt-edge object to try to scrape out the stinger. "If something like a credit card is not available, use your fingers because it's better then leaving it in and allowing more venom to be pumped in to your bloodstream," he says.

Also, put ice on the sting to reduce the swelling that may occur later, he says. "This will also minimize any discomfort."

Also keep the area clean as possible. A topical anesthetic is also helpful to stave off itch and pain that can accompany a bite or sting.

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