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Women's Health

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Surviving Summer

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


What's a summer without a barbecue? To make sure that your meal goes off without an emergency trip to the restroom or the ER, make sure that mayonnaise and salads with mayonnaise stay out of the sun. "If these food items are brought from refrigerator directly to table, help yourself, but don't let them sit out more than 15 minutes in the hot sun," Leahy says. "Hamburgers should be cooked thoroughly and not be pink inside."

Where the Wild Things Are

"An ounce of prevention is really important when it comes to avoiding bug bites this summer," says toxicologist Stephen Pennisi, PhD, a.k.a. "Dr. Itch" and director of the Lanacane Itch Information Center in White Plains, N.Y.

"We work very hard during the day and want to enjoy our time off, and there is nothing worse then having to stop in the middle of a beach barbecue and take someone to the ER," he says.

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.

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