When working outdoors, you may encounter a variety of insects and arachnids (spiders) that can bite or sting. These bites and stings can transmit diseases, cause infection and trigger allergic reactions. Some are also poisonous. Therefore, it is important that you know how to prevent and respond to these encounters while working outdoors.
In most cases, insect, tick and spider bites will not lead to serious outcomes, but they can be uncomfortable. If you are bitten or stung, remove the stinger if there is one, treat itching with calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream and apply ice to reduce swelling. Monitor yourself for any more serious symptoms, but in most cases, this simple first aid will be sufficient.
Follow these tips for preventing bites and stings when working outdoors:
- DO apply a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved insect repellant, and always follow the label directions for safe use. DEET and picaridin are two common, effective repellants. If your business sells insect repellant, download a free Zika virus flier to post near repellant in your store. More information about Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses can be found on the Emergency Preparedness page of this website.
- DO wear long sleeves, long pants, socks, gloves and outdoor shoes to cover your skin. In hot conditions, light weight versions can be substituted to prevent overheating.
- DO tuck your shirt into your pants, and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
- DO wear light-colored clothing because it makes insects easier to see.
- DON’T wear perfume or cologne when working outdoors because it may attract insects.
- DON’T swat insects, since this might actually attract them.
- DON’T do outdoor work if you’re severely allergic to insect bites and stings.
If you’re allergic to insect bites and stings — especially if you’re severely allergic — first aid is critical, so you must be prepared.
- Carry any allergy kit prescribed by your doctor and learn how to use it. Also train friends, family and coworkers to help you use it. Keep your kit near you at all times when you’re outdoors around insects.
- Wear a medical identification tag that will inform others of your allergy.
- You might also want to discuss allergy shots with your doctor. Treatment with allergy shots may be appropriate and help control or prevent a severe allergic reaction.
SOURCES: BLR – Business and Legal Resources, Alabama Department of Public Health