Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are as happy to see warm weather as we are. You can protect yourself from stings and bites with a few simple precautions:

1. Bees and other flying insects are drawn by scent. Don’t wear perfume, hair spray or other fragrance when working or playing outdoors. Experts also suggest wearing neutral clothing colors, not bright colors or florals. Loose clothing, too, is a no-no because it can trap an insect.

2. If you’re buzzed by a bee or wasp, don’t flail around or try to smack it. Remain calm and still. Chances are, it will go away if you don’t give it a reason to sting. Remember: Wasps, hornets and yellow jackets can sting multiple times because they don’t lose their stingers.

3. Food is a major attraction. If you’re drinking pop from a can, peer inside the can before taking a sip. Double-check any food or fruit before you take a bite. Discard empty cans and wrappers, and keep garbage cans tightly covered.

4. Grass feels great on your bare feet – until you step on a bee or wasp.

If you’re stung:

Most reactions are mild – itching, redness, minor pain and swelling. Wash the site with soap and water. Remove the stinger using gauze to wipe over the area or by scraping a fingernail over the area. Don’t squeeze or use tweezers, which can drive the stinger deeper into your skin.

Apply cream with hydrocortisone, pramoxine or lidocaine to help control pain and itching. Calamine lotion, a paste of baking soda or a lotion with colloidal oatmeal may also soothe itching. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling, if necessary. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever or antihistamine.

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Call 911 if the person stung has difficulty breathing, swelling of lips, eyelids or throat, dizziness, faintness or confusion, a rapid heartbeat, hives, nausea, cramps or vomiting. Then,

 Ask if the person is carrying an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, others) to treat an allergic attack.

 If the person says he or she needs to use an autoinjector, ask whether you should help inject the medication. This is usually done by pressing the autoinjector against the person's thigh and holding it in place for several seconds.

 Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket. Don't give him or her anything to drink.

Worst case scenarios:

If attacked by a squadron of stinging insects, run to get away. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises getting indoors as quickly as possible. Do not jump into water because some insects are known to hover above water.

Don’t leave windows down in your car. But if a stinging insect does become trapped in your vehicle, it will become frantic (and you probably will, too). As quickly and safely as possible, pull over and roll down the windows so it can escape.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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