CofC Logo

Outdoor Safety

Snakes

Prompt medical attention is critical when dealing with snake bites. The medical personnel will need to know as much detail about the type of snake involved. It is very important to remain calm, perform first aid and seek help at the nearest emergency room.

Poison Oak, Ivy and Sumac

If you plan to go to an area where these plants grow, be aware of what they look like and wear long-sleeved shirts and plants. Urushiol, the chemical that causes the rash, can remain active 1 to 5 years, so wash all surfaces that come in contact with the plants thoroughly with water. If you are susceptible to these plants, a new lotion that contains bentoquatum is available to help protect the skin against infection.

Ticks

Lyme disease is bacterial illness carried by deer ticks which cause various symptoms To prevent infection conduct a thorough tick check after you return from the field and make sure if you detect a tick to remove the entire body including the head with tweezers and treat the area with rubbing alcohol.

Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes can carry Malaria, Encephalitis, and West Nile Virus. Insect repellents that contain DEET (N,N-diethyltoluamide) are an effective way to keep mosquitoes at bay. Don't use perfumed sunscreens and lotions, and avoid baggy clothes that can trap bugs. If an insect bite results in hives, swelling of the tongue, nausea or vomiting, rapid heartbeat, or difficulty breathing, seek medical help immediately.

Fire Ants

Watch where you step! Once you disturb the mound, the ants will swarm and attack injecting venom that can cause a simple local reaction or a life-threatening allergic reaction. Most people experience pain and swelling that may evolve into small fluid filled pustulates that itch at the sting site. The treatment for the common local reactions involves using hydrocortisone cream and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to help decrease the itching. If any signs of an allergic reaction occur, seek medical help immediately.

Bee and Wasp Stings

Most bees and wasp will not attack if left alone. If provoked, a bee will sting in defense of its nest or itself. When stung, look immediately for the barbed stinger and quickly remove it by flicking it or scratching it out of the skin with the fingernail or tweezers to avoid the release of more toxins. Immediately apply ice or cold compression to the sting site. People with severe reactions to insect stings should always carry a bee sting kit and seek medical help immediately.

Jellyfish

Although most species of jelly fish you might encounter in SC water are harmless, there are several species which warrant caution. Care should be taken when swimming in areas where dangerous jellies are known to exist or when an abundance of jellies of any type are present. Primary first aid for stings should be the application of meat tenderizer, sugar, vinegar, plant juices or sodium bicarbonate to reduce the effects of the venom. Victims of serious stings should make every effort to get out of the water as soon as possible to avoid drowning. If swelling and pain from more serious stings persists, prompt medical attention should be sought.

Alligators

Alligators are a natural part of the low country ecosystem. It is unlawful to feed or entice alligators with food. You should never approach within 60 feet of an alligator.

Additional Resources