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Hiking through the wilderness is a great way to get in touch with nature. On occasion however, we get a little too close to certain elements of nature. Wasps, bees, scorpions and spiders do not always take kindly to our inroads into their world. For the majority of people encounters with these creatures, while somewhat painful and at times a major irritant, remains rather minor. For others, these encounters can pose a more serious risk.
Emergency Care for Allergic Reactions
Certain individuals are allergic to the venom of wasps, bees, spiders and scorpions. Depending on the severity of their allergy, these bites or stings can range from a major irritant to a life threatening situation. If you know you are allergic to any of these it is highly advisable you consult with your personal doctor to determine your options.
One possible option is a prescription for an EpiPen. In the event of being stung or bitten, the person can use the epinephrine portion of the EpiPen to inject themselves. This portion of the device contains medicine which will help counteract the venom and prevent the development of a major medical emergency. For less severe conditions a dose of Benadryl will often be sufficient. You should consult with your physician to determine if any of these options is right for you. Preparation and knowledge are key to a successful outcome with an allergic reaction.
Encountering Snakes on the Trail
If you hike on a regular basis you will occasionally come into contact with a variety of snakes. In most instances, the snake will want to avoid you and will go out of its way to do so. For your personal safety it is advised you learn how to identify venomous snakes. This is to provide you with information on the snakes which present a more serious risk, not so you will know which ones to kill. Let the snakes go on their way, and you continue on yours.
Unfortunately there are times when these chance encounters cannot be avoided and the snake strikes, either out of fear, or to protect young. If you are bitten by a non-poisonous snake clean the area well and apply an antibiotic ointment. Upon your return to civilization you may want to consult with your doctor, who may want you to have a tetanus shot. If the area becomes red or swollen it is possibly infected and you should seek medical attention.
If the bite comes from a poisonous snake, your treatment in the wild is no different from the treatment for the non-venomous snake. Do not cut the wound and try to suck out the venom. You are far more likely to do more harm than good. Many venomous snakes can inflict a dry bite, in which no venom is injected into the victim. If venom is injected, the situation will normally not become life-threatening unless the person is extremely susceptible to the venom in the form of an allergic reaction. If bitten by a snake identified as venomous, you should immediately end your hike and seek medical attention for the bite victim.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Always include a first aid kit in your hiking materials. A small amount of sting relief, antibiotic ointment and clean bandages can be very beneficial for any of these encounters. Always make the people you are hiking with aware of any allergies or medical conditions. While this is normally very private information, in the wilderness it is sometimes necessary to surrender a bit of your privacy in order to protect yourself and to help others protect you as well. Always remember, preparation and knowledge are key to a positive outcome.