Avoiding the Lurking Hazards of Summer

hazards of summerSummer has nearly begun, and there are hazards of summer are lurking in the recreation environments that demand our attention. Some of these hazards are obvious, such as heat exhaustion, dehydration, sunburns and the like. Others, such as certain plants, insects and snakes, require particular attention so we don’t fall victim to a preventable injury.

Hazards of Summer Insects

From the less harmful yellow flies, black flies, chiggers and mosquitoes to the more threatening ticks, insects become more active in the spring and summer months. Protection from these pests can come by way of different DEET-containing lotions and sprays to clothing impregnated with permethrin. Most of these insects can cause minor itching due to the reaction to the bite, which can be treated with topical Benadryl or other anti-itching creams. There are some cases where people get numerous bites and then scratch them until they become raw and infected, resulting in the need for medical treatment.

Mosquitoes are known carriers of West Nile Virus. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. However, about 1 in 5 people will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1 percent of those infected develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

Zika Risk mapZika is also a mosquito-borne virus closely related to yellow fever, dengue and West Nile viruses. A Zika virus outbreak was identified in Brazil in early 2015. Since then, it has spread to more than 25 other countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 2 Travel Alert (Practice Enhanced Precautions) for areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. This includes the recommendation that women who are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Read more about pest prevention here!

On the other hand, the tick can cause much more of an issue if you are bitten by an infected vector. Ticks can carry Colorado tick fever, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, southern tick-associated rash illness and tularemia. While not all ticks are infectious, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you find an embedded tick on your body, see your medical personnel and have them remove it and send it to the lab for diagnosis. If the diagnosis comes back positive, a doctor will then prescribe the proper medical treatment.

With the introduction of the permethrin-treated outdoor garments, a single factory treatment with permethrin offers significant benefits to the wearer including increased protection against the bites of mosquitoes, flies, midges, ticks and chiggers for the life of the garment.

Hazards of Summer Snakes

hazards of summer north_american_snakes_posterSnakes become more active as the days heat up. Ensure you avoid snakes and learn to identify poisonous varieties that may frequent certain areas. In the event of a snake bite, it’s a good idea to identify the snake if at all possible. This will greatly assist medical personnel in their treatment plan.
Most snake bites won’t kill a person, but they can make them sick, so it’s best to get treated immediately in order to minimize the severity.
Some poisonous snakes found in North America, such as the copperhead, rattlesnake and water moccasin, have venom consisting of neurotoxins that affect the nervous system and brain. The coral snake, the most poisonous, has hemotoxin, which affects the heart and cardiovascular system. Be proactive and check sleeping areas and sleeping bags before settling in for the night. Snakes have been known to slither into sleeping bags during the day to escape the heat.
Bottom line: If you see a snake, leave it alone!!!

Hazards of Summer Plants

hazards of summer plants poisonIn most areas of the country, the woods are now covered in green foliage. A few of those leafy green specimens we need to avoid or at least how to alleviate their effects if we do encounter them. The three most common offenders are poison sumac, poison ivy and poison oak.
Poison ivy and poison oak are the three-leafed ground dwellers while poison sumac looks like a shrub or small tree and grows in damp areas. The results of an encounter with one of these plants can render an individual incapacitated for a few days.
The reason for the insane discomfort is urushiol. Urushiol is the oily sap from these plants that rubs off on the skin or sometimes onto the clothes. The oil is then typically transferred when rubbing sweat from the face or eyes. Urushiol can cause itching, redness, slight swelling and blisters on the skin, which tend to appear 24 to 48 hours after contact. Although the blisters can break and ooze, the fluid cannot spread the rash. Even smoke from burning poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac contains urushiol and can irritate or harm your nasal passages or lungs.

There are several ways to prevent and remedy contact with these plants:

  • poison plant growthLearn how to identify hazardous plants so you can try to avoid them.
  • Refrain from rubbing your face with their hands when in areas of known plant growth.
  • Avoid inhaling smoke from burning plants containing urushiol.
  • Change your clothes and bathe to remove the oils from your skin if you come into contact with one of these plants.

If you are unfortunate enough to have an acute allergic reaction due to these plants, visit a pharmacy. Calamine lotion will dry up the blisters and prevent spreading. In most severe cases, you may have to be taken to the hospital and given treatment via topical steroids such as clobetasol, or systemic steroids and antihistamines or super strength allergy medications.

As the temperatures warm up and you get out to enjoy some much-needed recreation, make sure to take those preventive measures to keep everyone safe and avoid the lurking hazards of summer!

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Gregory Beckman

About the Author:

Hi, I am Gregory Beckman, as the main owner of Military Hunting and Fishing let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I am currently an active duty member in the United States Coast Guard. I have been privileged to traveling the world. My experiences have shaped the way that I see the world and my memories will stick with me for a lifetime. Although I may not live in the country, the country lives in me. Traveling the world I have had the chance to experience the wonders of nature in many different places, meeting many different people and tasting wild game that the normal person would not get to experience. Although these experiences have kept me away from home, it has instilled a deep passion of hunting and fishing in my blood. Thank you for joining our site, and I look forward to interacting and sharing stories of our hunting adventures. Gregory A. Beckman