Poison Oak, Snakes, and Ticks…Oh My!

Poison Oak

poison-oakTo protect yourself from Poison Oak:

  • Avoid the plants. Learn how to identify poison oak in all seasons. Stay on cleared pathways.
  • Keep pets from running through wooded areas so that the poison oak oils don’t accidentally stick to their fur, which you then might touch.
  • Wear protective clothing. If needed, protect your skin by wearing socks, boots, pants, long sleeves, and vinyl gloves.
  • Wash your skin and your pet’s furWithin 30 minutes after exposure, use soap and cold water to gently wash off the harmful resin from your skin. Scrub under your fingernails, too. This helps prevent a rash. Even washing after an hour or so can help reduce the severity of the rash.
  • Clean contaminated objects. If you think you’ve come into contact with poison oak, wash your clothing promptly with detergent — ideally in a washing machine.
  • Wash any other contaminated items such as outdoor gear, garden tools, jewelry, shoes, and even shoelaces as soon as possible. The oils can remain potent for years.
  • Apply a barrier cream. Try over-the-counter skin products that are intended to act as a barrier between your skin and the oily resin that causes poison oak rashes.

Source: Mayo Clinic


18211691946_ae7e12e977_nDo’s and don’ts in snake country:

  • First, know that rattlesnakes are not confined to rural areas. They have been found near urban areas, in river or lakeside parks, and at golf courses. Be aware that startled rattlesnakes may not rattle before striking defensively.
  • Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds, and heavy underbrush where snakes might hide during the day.
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
  • Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
  • Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
  • Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
  • Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.

What to do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake:

  • Stay calm
  • Wash the bite area gently with soap and water
  • Remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling
  • Immobilize the affected area
  • Transport safely to the nearest medical facility

Source: California Poison Control


ticksAvoid Direct Contact with Ticks:

  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body:

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially their scalp and hair.

How to remove a tick:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Source: Centers for Disease Control