Enjoy the last days of summer with safety in mind

As summertime rolls to a close, we might think we have our summer safety game down to a tee.

But late summer can also provide moments that require an extra level of attention, especially since it’s the time of year when bees, wasps and yellow jackets are most active.

“If you do get stung by one of these insects, you want to immediately wash the area, said Tom Waters, M.D., an emergency department physician at Cleveland Clinic. “You can apply some ice and some over the counter medications such as diphenhydramine, or a mild steroid crème, which can be very helpful at the site of the sting.”

For those who have been stung, Dr. Waters said it’s important to keep an eye out for a possible allergic reaction

“Things to watch out for would be anything involving your airway – if you’re noticing swelling or even a cough or a hoarse voice, or tongue swelling – those are all signs that you are allergic and you need to get to a health care facility immediately,” he said.

Dr. Waters said sometimes a rash or hives can develop after a sting. If hives begin to develop, this can also be a sign of an allergic reaction, so it’s important to get emergency care right away.

For those who already know they are allergic to insect stings, it’s vital to always have an epinephrine pen handy.

“Once you’ve developed an allergy to bee stings, you’re always going to be allergic to bee stings,” said Dr. Waters.” Even if you haven’t been stung in 10-20 years, the next time you are stung, you’re going to have an allergic reaction, so it’s important to keep your epinephrine pen up to date and accessible.”

The end of summer also typically means that many community pools shut down for the season.

But with several more weeks of warm temperatures left, many people will retreat to their backyard pools to cool off.

Dr. Waters warns that extra safety steps need to be taken with backyard pools, especially when planning larger gatherings where children will be present.

“At a private pool, there’s typically not a lifeguard on duty,” he said. “While there may be a lot of family members around having a picnic, it’s important to designate somebody to be the lifeguard and make sure that somebody is keeping an eye on the little ones in the pool at all times.”

Dr. Waters also said when it comes to private pools, a self-closing, locking fence around the pool is a must because it only takes a second for a child to fall into the water.