As all school districts know, work certainly doesn’t end during the summer. There are many tasks to accomplish, including maintaining the grounds and preparing them for the return of students in the fall. One of the hazards of working outside during the summer, however, is being bitten by bugs and snakes.
In many cases (such as with most mosquitoes), bug bites are simply annoying. But there are times when insect and snake bites can become a major risk for your employees.
Risks associated with bites and stings
The following is a list of just a few of the complications that can accompany bites and stings:
- Allergic reaction – According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 3% of adults can have a potentially life-threatening reaction to an insect bite. What’s more, many of these adults have no idea a bug bite could pose such a danger to them. Signs of an allergic reaction can include wheezing; swelling of the throat or tongue, which can cause breathing difficulties; nausea and vomiting; loss of consciousness; lightheadedness; or swollen eyes, lips, hands or feet.
- A disease such as Lyme disease or West Nile virus – Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. It can cause fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash, and if left untreated, can lead to joint, heart and nervous system problems. West Nile virus is the leading mosquito-borne disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC).
- Infection – Signs that an insect bite has become infected include redness, warmth, pain, pus drainage and swelling.
How to prevent bites
You can take the following steps to prevent bites and stings:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Treat your clothing with permethrin, which repels bugs.
- Use a mosquito repellant registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
- When moving through tall grass or weeds, poke at the ground in front of you with a long stick to scare away snakes.
What to do when you get bitten
Treatment for a bite largely depends on what kind of insect bit you. In the case of ticks, for example, the most important part of the treatment is first removing the bug from your skin. It’s incredibly important that employees check themselves for ticks whenever they are working in a heavily wooded or overgrown area. The longer a tick stays on the skin, the more harm it can cause.
In addition to making sure the insect is removed from the skin, take the following steps to treat an insect sting or bite:
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Place a cold compress over the area to reduce swelling.
- For painful bites, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- If you experience rash, fever or body aches, see your doctor right away.
For a snake bite:
- Wash the bite with soap and water.
- Keep the bitten area still and lower than the heart.
- Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to ease swelling and discomfort.
- Monitor breathing and heart rate.
- If bitten by a venomous snake or you don’t know whether the snake was venomous, seek medical attention immediately.