Poisonous Bites

Children are most at risk for these bites because adults know enough to carefully avoid such critters, but kids may be fascinated by them. And children are more likely to die from their stings or bites than adults are because risk is a matter of how much body weight there is for the poison to distribute itself through. That's why children under 3 are likely to die from such a bite, but adults will probably recover—unless they're over 60, which again increases the risk. So for starters, you have to teach your children to avoid bugs with long tails, spiders, and snakes in general until they can seriously discriminate the OK ones from the bad guys.

scorpions: They live in warm-climate zones. Most of the 20 U.S. varieties are based in the Southwest, but one kind is winter-hardy and is found even in Alberta, Canada. Scorpions have long movable tails with a stinger on the end that injects poison. Scorpion poison can paralyze muscles, including the heart muscle.

Black Widow Spiders: They are found throughout the United States. If you get a look at the belly, there is an hourglass shape—bright red or bright yellow—on it. If, however, all you're seeing is the spider's back, it's hard to tell. Black widow poison is similar to scorpion. Florence Merrifield from Mexico wrote me, "My neighbor had 3 dogs. Two got black widow spider bit and died in Vz hour." First Aid for Scorpion/Black Widow Bites

1. Slowest possible absorption of venom results in milder symptoms and less possibility of death.

2. So, if possible, put ice on wound. If bite or sting is on a limb, ice the entire limb if possible.

3. If the bite is on a limb, use a limited-tightness tourniquet, and do so carefully. You want the arteries to continue to carry blood into the area, but the veins to be inhibited from carrying blood away from it. Don't shut off blood flow completely.

4. Do not give stimulants. They speed up absorption of venom.

5. Avoid physical exertion by the victim. This also speeds up absorption. So keep the victim still rather than walking.

6. Don't apply heat, chemical cauterization, herbal stimulants, or anything containing alcohol to the wound. All these speed up absorption and make the doctor's job more difficult.

7. Get expert medical assistance. If the identity of the stinging or biting culprit is known for sure, a doctor can give the victim an effective antivenin—unless the victim is allergic to horse serum, and many people are.

8. If the victim is allergic, a doctor can give only supportive treatment for symptoms, and the body must deal with the venom on its own.

Brown Recluse Spider: This spider is at home all over North America. Its bite results in a sizable area of rotting flesh all around where the bite happened. Take the victim to the doctor right away The doctor can't counteract the venom but can help the victim stay alive until it works its course, which can take months.

snakes: Most snakes are not poisonous, but some are: the copperhead, coral snake, water moccasin (or cotton-mouth), and the many kinds of rattlesnake. Rules for Snaky Places and Times of Year

1. Don't go out without the protection of a pair of heavy snake boots if you live where snakes are numerous, grumpy, and poisonous. The thicker the shoe leather, the better. Boots that cover not only the foot but also the calf (at a distance from the calf) are best.

2. Stay alert for the presence of snakes. Discover them before you're on top of them. Snakes don't ordinarily chase people. People practically step on them, and then they bite. So see the snake first, and then backtrack like greased lightning till you're well out of its way.

3. Never put your foot or hand down until you can first see what's there. In other words, stay on the trail, and keep your eyes on where you're about to step. If around water, keep in mind that snakes may be in trees.

4. Send a dog with the kids when they go out alone, because it will probably notice the snake before they do and bark to warn them, probably risking its life for them. A dog saved my children in just that way, more than once!

5. I always used to make the children go out in snake season at least in pairs, or else stay home, so that if one had a problem, the other could go for help.

6. If a bite happens, also follow rules for scorpion/black widow bites. And get medical help as soon as possible.

7. If you don't own a basic first-aid handbook, get one and read it.

Continue reading here: Measurements Metric Equivalents

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