Last week we talked about the little dragons that come to call while you’re on vacation, spoiling an otherwise perfect day at the beach or at your favorite pirate hideout. Whether you’re pillaging and plundering in the Caribbean or just stretching out on your hammock in the backyard, when you’re prepared for the unexpected, you’ll be more likely to escape with nothing but good times to remember.
Lightning. Some of the worst weather days start out with bright sunshine and the promise of endless fun. Then the clouds begin to build. Whether you’re at the beach, the golf course, or hiking in the woods, you suddenly realize a summer storm is about to implode your dreams. You can endure the clouds and the rain, but one thing you can’t survive is a lightning strike. Every year forty-nine people are killed by lightning. Some were caught unexpectedly off-guard; others played chicken with nature and lost.
Let’s get this straight from the outset. There is NO safe place outside in the middle of a thunderstorm. The only safe places are a sturdy building or an enclosed vehicle which rules out your typical Jeep. When you see the first signs of a storm coming, it’s time to start packing. Lightning isn’t confined to the clouds. It often hits as far away as three miles, sometimes more.
Crouching down won’t help. You’ll only look like a big roasted turkey if it hits you. Standing under a tree is worse than stupid. Lightning likes to hit things that stick way up in the air. Spell that mountains, hills, and trees. Did you know that lying on the ground is also a very bad idea? More people die from ground current than direct strikes. When lightning strikes an object, the current spreads out along the ground, electrifying everything it touches.
Mosquito Bites. Just when you thought it was safe to go outside, along comes another disease carried by mosquitoes. This year it’s Zika. It’s mostly predominant in parts of South America, but authorities are concerned that it could spread to the United States and Europe. While your chances of contracting Zika are small, West Nile virus is always a threat. Symptoms are headache, body ache, joint pain, and vomiting. Spray yourself with Deet. Adults can use a mix of fifty percent; for children it’s thirty percent. Don’t use it at all on infants. Eliminate standing water on your property. That includes buckets, barrels, cans, flower pots, and the hulls of old pirate ships. Clean bird ponds once a week. I would tell you to put on long pants and a long sleeve shirt, but when it’s ninety degrees outside and you’re thinking of your string bikini that would be silly. However, don’t go romping in the woods or through tall grass where mosquitoes thrive.
Tick Bites. Ticks still carry Lyme disease and symptoms include chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, and a bull’s eye skin rash. Some people, however, who never have signs of this rash still develop full blown Lyme’s disease. Deer, mice, and other small animals can carry the ticks bearing this disease, so eliminate plants, weeds, and anything else that invites these critters to visit your property.
Check yourself and your kids when you’ve been outside. That includes not only obvious places, but your scalp, underarms, groin, and between your buttocks. And don’t worry about a crawling tick. It’s only after it’s attached itself for twenty-four to forty-eight hours and started sucking blood that danger evolves.
To remove a tick, use a tweezers and get it as close to the skin as possible where the tick has attached itself. Don’t twist. Instead pull straight out. Whatever you do, don’t put the tweezers around the body of the tick. Crushing it is likely to force some of the infected blood back into your body, infecting you even more. Don’t forget to put some kind of antibiotic ointment like bacitracin on the site. For additional info, check out http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/how-to-remove-a-tick-overview?page=2
Shark Attacks. Sharks aren’t going away anytime soon and neither should you. Though it may not seem that way, the threatened species here is the shark not humans. Just keep in mind four or five simple tricks and you’ll reduce your chance of a shark attack dramatically. I’ve already written about them at https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/reduce-your-risk-of-a-shark-attack/
Jet Skis. Commonly referred to as personal water craft or PWC, this water activity is packed full of fun, but I wonder how many people are aware of the risks? Without proper training, using one could become a personal trip to the morgue. These things are dangerous for several reasons. Unlike boats which have hulls, there is nothing underneath to slow them down. And because it won’t steer when you let up on the throttle, you could be in big trouble. Since jet skis have no rudder, you have no control. Think of your car skidding on ice. Add other people zipping around you with the same problem, and it’s not a question of having an accident. It’s a question of why there aren’t more of them.
In 2011, 808 died from personal water crafts. Another 764 injuries occurred. That means if you’re in an accident with a PWC your chances are better than 50/50 that you’ll either die or kill someone with it. I’m not telling you to stay off PWC’s, but you should know the risks for you and your loved ones before getting on one. Check out the article on jet skis at http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/opin/jetskis.html
Remedies for Jelly Fish. There’s a lot of deadly jelly fish out there in the oceans of the world, and this article is NOT about treating one of their stings. It’s about the common jelly fish you’re likely to encounter along the beaches of the continental United States. Stings from these though painful are mostly problematic. With a little common sense and preparation, you can minimize the ordeal.
First get the victim out of the water and wash off the stung area with sea water. Do NOT use fresh water which will only make the sting worse by activating more of the enzymes in contact with the skin. Next remove the stingers from the area. Shaving the area works as does scraping it with something flat and hard like a credit card. Then rinse with either vinegar or a combination of sea water and baking soda. Some doctors suggest treating the infected area with hot water. If this is unavailable, cold packs are recommended.
Some people are allergic to jelly fish just as some are allergic to bee stings. So use your COMMON SENSE. If the person is having a severe reaction which includes difficulty breathing, swallowing, chest pains, intense pain, or if the sting covers a large area, call 911. This is no time for a wait-and-see approach.
A little foresight and planning for emergencies can make your pirate adventures a whole lot more fun. If Blackbeard had taken a few extra precautions, he might still be out there plundering. You can have a hell of a good time out there on the high seas of life, but as the motto of the Coast Guard says, Sempus Paratus. Be Always Prepared.
The Uncommon Mariner