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Severe Allergic Reaction

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Also, known as anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction to a substance. Many times the reactions can be so severe that a person can die before medical attention can arrive. Anaphylaxis doesn’t discriminate; it can affect both adults as well as children.

Those who have experienced a severe reaction to a substance should consult a doctor and carry with them an Epi-Pen. This is a doctor prescribed, easily inject-able, dose of epinephrine which helps counteract the severe allergic reaction.

Epinephrine quickly acts to increase the heart rate and constrict blood vessels. It begins to relax the muscle around the lungs to improve breathing and stops the swelling of the face, tongue, lips and throat. Without epinephrine an anaphylactic reaction could quickly become fatal.

There are countless items in which someone can have a hyper-sensitivity, but the most common are:

  • Poison plants
  • Animal Scratches or dander
  • Pollen
  • Latex
  • Bee Stings
  • Medications
  • Nuts or Shellfish
  • Dust and Molds

Anaphylaxis can affect about 15% of the population. The allergic reaction will continue as long as the victim remains in contact with the allergen. It is best to remove the substance or allergen as quickly as possible. Remove stingers or wash effected areas with soap and water where the toxins had touched.

The general signs to look for in an allergic reaction are:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Hives
  • Scratchy Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dry Mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

9-1-1 should always be called if anaphylaxis occurs or if the Epi-pen is used. Complications or additional doses of epinephrine may be needed.

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Did you know the highest number of people being struck by lightning occurs in the summer? A lightning strike has the temperature of 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit which is hotter than the surface of the Sun, but fortunately most people who are hit by lightning survive. Less than 10% die each year from a lightning strike, still approximately 58 people do. Even though most don’t die when struck by lightning, they do deal with severe and long term effects.

Lightning can travel up to 10 miles from a storm. If you can hear thunder you are in an area where you can be hit by lightning. If you feel your hair beginning to stand, this is a bad sign. Seek shelter immediately, but stay away from trees and metal objects such as a shed. Get low and stay low, do not become the highest surface around.

The best shelter is in a house. Realize you can still be in harms way. Lightning can travel through windows, doors and wires. So stay away from the windows or doors and do not use the telephone. Most lightning injuries inside a home come from people talking on the phone where the lightning travels through the wires of the phone.

Best place in your home is the basement or a closet. Bathrooms have a lot of metal piping which the electricity can travel. Lightning doesn’t just come from thunderstorms. Volcanic eruptions, forest fires, hurricanes and nuclear detonations can all produce lightning.

If someone is hit by lightning, realize they are not full of electricity. You can touch them without getting harmed. Check to make sure they are still breathing. If not breathing, moving or coughing, begin CPR.

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Jellyfish Stings – Pee or not to Pee?

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Urine is not a first aid treatment for jellyfish stings. In fact, urinating upon the site can cause additional stings. Jellyfish stings can cause immediate pain and burning for several hours. Raised, red welts develop along the site of the sting, which may look as if you have been hit with a whip.

Avoid rubbing the affected area with your unprotected hands. The remaining tentacles can attach to your hands and cause additional stings and pain. Don’t flush with fresh water, urine, gasoline or turpentine, this will stimulate the tentacles to release more venom.

It is suggested to use:

  • Pour a solution of vinegar and warm water to the site to prevent further stings.
  • If vinegar is not available, flush the effect area with copious amounts of salt water.
  • Pick off the remaining tentacles with a stick or your hand protected by a towel or glove.
  • If available, apply a lather of shaving cream or soap, or a paste of baking soda, flour, or talc, to the skin. The stinging cells will stick to the shaving cream or paste and can then be easily scraped off with the edge of a credit card.

Closely observe the victim for any signs of a serious allergic reaction. Any swelling of the neck, face, tongue, developing hives and skin rashes or difficulty in breathing could be the beginning signs of anaphylactic shock and should be treated by a medical professional immediately.

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Dogs Die From Heat Stroke

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During the hot summer months, heat illness is one of the leading causes for an emergency Vet visits. Unlike humans, dogs do not have sweat glands and all internal heat is released from their body by panting. Along with the fur, this makes man’s best friend more susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, if too excited or exercised vigorously during hot days.

Signs of a dog in heat exhaustion are:

  •  Vigorous panting.
  • Gums become a dark red.
  • Dry mucus membranes (specifically around the gums).
  • Lying down and unwilling to get up.
  • Collapse and/or loss of consciousness.
  • Thick saliva.
  • Dizziness or disorientation.
  • Increased rectal temperature, normal temperature range is 100.5 – 102.5. (Over 104° requires action; over 106° is a dire emergency).

If you suspect heat exhaustion, stop all activity and get the dog into shade or a cooler environment. Place wet rags on the foot pads and around the dog’s neck. If you use water to cool them, make sure it is temped and not extremely cold water. Try not to use ice, ice causes blood vessels to constrict and will prevent the core from cooling properly. Place fans to blow cool air on a dog’s coat.

If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which is a life threatening condition. This happens when the core body temperature is above 105° or higher. At this temperature brain and organ damage begins. Dog breeds with short noses, such as pugs, bulldogs and mastiffs are more susceptible and need to be watched more closely.

To prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • NEVER leave your dog in a car. A dog’s body temperature can elevate into the danger zone in less than 20 minutes.
  • Use moderate activities during hot days.
  • Have plenty of water for your dog to drink.
  • Give your dog ample opportunities to rest in the shade.

Some dogs can recover fully from heat stroke if it is caught early enough. Others suffer permanent organ damage and require lifelong treatment. Sadly, many dogs do not survive heat stroke. Prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe during warmer weather.

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Residential Wildfires

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Fire Safety – California is in the midst of a serious drought. Homeowners are being encouraged or required to reduce watering of lawns and foliage around their homes. These dry conditions can lead to serious wildfires.

As the summer progresses and the temperatures rise, the chance of back or front yard wildfires will continue to increase. These fires can start small, but with more combustible materials, they can increase significantly within seconds, putting whole neighborhoods in danger. It is time to reduce the risks and prepare your home before a residential wildfire strikes.

Here are some things you can do now to make your home safer:

  • Meet with family members to decide on an action plan if a fire does occur. Identify safe locations away from the home and make them gathering or meeting places.
  • Remove dead bushes and trees.
  • Remove tree branches that extend over your roof.
  • Clean roofs and gutter of debris. They can ignite from floating embers from a fire several blocks away
  • Fire extinguishers are great to have, but do your family members know how to use them? Time to train those old enough, how to use them and also when to recognize the fire is too big to fight.
  • Clear away items that can burn, from direct contact around your home. Such as wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecues, tarps and coverings.
  • Have a garden hose that can reach any area around your home.
  • Remove any vines that are attached to a wall of the home.

By taking these actions you increase the safety of your home and those homes in your neighborhood. For more information, contact your local fire department or

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Do You Need Stitches?

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For proper healing, some wounds or cuts may need stitches?  Your first priority with all cuts is to stop all bleeding.  Then determine if additional care is needed. Best practice to control bleeding, is to use direct fingertip or palm pressure upon the wound.  Continue direct pressure until the bleeding stops.

Then clean the wound to remove any dirt or debris.  Plain soap and water works best.  Wounds should be addressed early, at least within the first 8 hours, though in certain situations stitches can be administered up to 24 hours. The longer medical attention is delayed, the higher probability of a bacterial infection. It is best to get medical attention as soon as possible.

Now that the bleeding has stopped and the wound has been cleaned, let’s look for certain signs that would indicate sutures or stitches would be required.

The following are wounds that most likely will need the assistance of stitches:

1. Any cut that is deep where muscle or yellow fatty tissue is visible.

2. Wounds 1 inch or longer in length.

3. Cuts around joints, where the movement of the joint would prevent proper healing.

4. Jagged or gaping wounds.

5. Torn sections with either an open flap or three sides torn away.

5. Cuts to the face or head.

The emergency room is well equipped to handle cuts and wounds. These doctors put in stitches several times a day and are well versed in the process, but cuts to the face or genitals should be treated by a plastic surgeon to reduce the possibility of excessive scaring.

Stitches can remain in place from 5 to 14 days depending upon the location of the wound. Always keep stitches dry for the first 24 hours to prevent infections. Afterward, immediately dry the affected area after bathing. Clean your stitches twice a day and apply an antibiotic ointment. If pus, redness or if the wound begins to smell bad, it may be infected and you should seek medical attention.

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Is There a Safer Seat on an Airplane?

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Can where you sit make a difference in surviving an air-crash? Most airlines and aeronautic experts say there isn’t a difference but, Popular Mechanics did a study of air crashes from 1971 and found some interesting information on which seats are the safest on an airplane.

It is recognized that there are two times during an air flight when more accidents occur. In fact, over 75% of all accidents occur either during the take-off or the landing of the aircraft. But don’t let this fact deter you from flying. The statistics show that flying, by commercial aircraft, is 22 times safer than driving a motor vehicle on US roadways.

Also, the type of crash had an influence. Certain crashes changed the desired safest seat location, but on average the seats located towards the rear of the plane had the best survival rates. You may be giving away some comfort by choosing a seat towards the rear since the most stable seats especially for those of you that contend with motion sickness, would be the ones directly over the wings.

First class passengers may be more comfortable than the rest of the passengers, but the front of the plane has the lowest survival rates in air-crashes.

Here is the breakdown on survival rates:

First Class 49%

Ahead of Wing 56%

Over Wing 56%

Rear Cabin 69%

So if you are susceptible to motion sickness you may want to consider a seat with the least movement (over the wing), but if you are looking for just safety, then selecting a seat towards the rear of the plane as your best bet.

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12 Reasons to Visit the Emergency Room

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Whether you’re a child or an adult an accidents and injury can occur at any time. Sometimes it may be difficult to determine if injury or symptoms are serious enough for immediate medical attention.  Though this is not an all-inclusive list, here are a few general guidelines to help you decide if you should make a trip to the Emergency Room.

  1. Loss of consciousness. Even if only briefly.
  2. Signs of a Heart Attack – For men: difficulty breathing, chest pressure, numbness in any arm and profuse sweating.  For women the signs could be different such as: indigestion, upper back pain, a stiff jaw, nausea and sweating.
  3. Signs of a Stroke – Unable to smile on both sides of face, difficulty in raising either arm, speech impairment.
  4. Any type of breathing difficulty.
  5. Bleeding that doesn’t stop after 10 minutes.
  6. Poisoning.
  7. Insect bite or sting where breathing becomes difficult or worsens.
  8. Major injury, such as a head trauma, dislocation or if bone is showing.
  9. Coughing up blood.
  10. Persistent or severe vomiting.
  11. Suicidal feelings.
  12. Unexplained disorientation or drowsiness.

In general, if you are questioning whether or not to go to the Emergency Room, it would be best to default on the side of safety and seek immediate medical attention. 

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How to Save 4 Lives

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Did you know that giving blood can save up to 4 lives? Most of the time we think of blood being used or needed for emergencies, but it is also used for people with cancer, heart disease and sickle cell anemia.

One person can donate one pint of blood, which could be used or given to up to 4 different people. Anybody over the age of 17 and who weighs at least 110 pounds, has the ability to give blood. Giving blood is easy and can give you a great feeling knowing you have helped save another person’s life.

Before donating blood it is suggested you do the following:

  • Drink plenty of water and/or juices
  • Eat a good breakfast or lunch
  • Avoid eating exceptionally fat foods beforehand
  • Wear comfortable clothes for easy access to veins

Give the gift of life!

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Which Stall is Best?

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Public restrooms are not always in the greatest shape.  So an easy question to entertain is in a public restroom does it make a difference in which stall you should use?

Surprisingly the answer is a definite yes. The center stall has more exposure to the floating droplets of water that are expelled during the flushing process. These droplets can carry germs, urine and feces which land on the toilet seat and handle.  Your best bet on the safest or less contaminated bathroom stall is the farthest to the left or right, away from the center of the restroom.

Also, studies have shown that the stall closest to the door is used less.  People generally want privacy and will pick a stall that is farther from the door.  With less use, the first stall remains cleaner and more importantly has more toilet paper.

Now you can’t catch an STD from a toilet seat, but you can become ill by touching contaminated surfaces.  Always practice safe hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water after using the restroom. Use a paper towel when opening the restroom door.

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