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Bees, Yellow Jackets, Hornets, Mosquitoes and Wasps – Bee Careful!

Summer…surf and sand, swimming pools, picnics, camping, outdoor sports and stinging insects! Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, mosquitoes and hornets can take the fun out of summer, and almost everyone has been bitten by one of these pesky creatures. For two million Americans, however, stinging insects can be deadly because of allergies to the venom. California Poison Control System (CPCS) reminds residents that there are ways to stay safe and avoid stings (#BeeSafe).

  • Stay clear of wild or commercial hives. Commercial hives may be located in white boxes and are often clustered in fields.
  • If you see a swarm of bees, take shelter indoors.
  • Hollow trees and rock crevices can be homes for stinging insects, so stay clear of them.
  • Cover food at picnics or outdoor meals at home, as they attract flying insects.
  • Stay away from old or abandoned buildings and vehicles.
  • Avoid using heavily scented soaps or perfumes.

“Apply insect repellent to all exposed skin areas. You can coat your own hands with a thin layer, and then apply to your child’s face, avoiding the eyes. Be aware that some repellents contain alcohol or other flammable ingredients, and should not be applied near a barbecue or fire pit,” says Dr. Cyrus Rangan, Assistant Medical Director for CPCS. He added that for people allergic to bee stings, it’s critical that they carry an auto injector of epinephrine, or EpiPen. “A severe reaction to a sting may result in abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, swelling of the face, lips or throat, breathing problems, hives and even anaphylactic shock,” Dr. Rangan said. “It’s a life-threatening emergency, so call 911 and get to the emergency room immediately.”

Dr. Rangan says for simple stings, remove the stinger with tweezers or by scraping with a flat object like a credit card. Cleanse the area with soap and water and use an cold pack for pain and swelling. If you have further symptoms, consult your health care provider.