The months of July and August are often referred to as the "Dog Days" of summer. This term comes from ancient times where it was believed that Sirius the Dog Star would make temperatures even hotter when it aligned with the Sun. Although the Dog Star doesn't actually increase the temperature during its appearance in the summer, I think we can agree it is hot-hot-hot outside! While doing any outdoor activities, be careful of overheating and insect stings.
There are two heat related illnesses we must be aware of: Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion.
This is life threatening. Symptoms are: Hot skin, elevated temperature, disorientation, bizarre behavior, convulsions, rapid breathing and pulse.
What to do? Seek medical attention immediately. Before help arrives, move the person to a cool place. Cool the person the best way possible. Place ice packs or damp rags on the neck and armpits. Fan the person. Slightly elevate their head and shoulders.
This occurs when you sweat too much and don’t replace body fluids. Symptoms are: Heavy sweating, normal temperature, pale color, headache, dizziness, nausea and weakness.
What to do? Move the person to a cool place. Elevate the legs. Cool the person with cool wet rags. Give water or Gatorade. Fan the person. Call for medical help if the person doesn’t improve in 30 minutes.
An old rhyme will help you remember which treatment is needed: “If the face is red, raise the head (heat stroke). If the face is pale, raise the tail/legs (heat exhaustion).”Insect Stings
June, July and August are the HOT months and the most active months for the Hymenoptera. Ants, Bees, Yellow Jackets and Wasps are hard at work foraging for food. They’re also looking for sources of moisture. Your favorite beverage in a chilled aluminum can is too much of an invitation to them. They will readily fly into the can and collect liquid to carry back to their nest. If you unsuspectingly take a drink while the insect is in the can, you may ingest it into your mouth, or worse, into your stomach. This is a very dangerous situation. You may be stung repeatedly before the insect dies. It’s hard to imagine how painful a sting would be in your esophagus or stomach!!
Each year several people die from Hymenoptera stings to the back of the throat. Their throat swells shut and they suffocate. If someone accidentally ingests a Hymenoptera and is stung in the back of the throat, the esophagus or stomach, get immediate medical help!
Stay cool and be careful while enjoying the “Dog Days” of summer.