Beware of air pollution, bees, ticks, sunshine and even copperheads in Rock Creek Park this summer.
This is the advice of the D.C. Medical Society which offered suggestions yesterday on how to cope with summer's perils.
Breathe as little as possible when there is an air pollution alert, said Dr. Davis Shea of the Washington Clinic. "If you have any chronic lung or breathing disease, stay indoors and rest," he said.
Dr. John Kenney of Howard University warned people to avoid excessive exposure to the sun, particulary people who have fair skin, because of its affects on aging and connection to skin cancer. He suggested using sun lotions "and if you're as bald as I am, cover your head."
Bee expert Dr. Yuill Black advised anyone who has ever had a strong reaction - such as hives or itching - to a bee, yellow jacket, wasp or hornet sting to get an allergy shot.
The next sting, he warned, could be fatal, astonishingly quickly, "with the average time between a bee sting and death only 10 minutes." He said allergists issue bee sting kits to senstive people, which incude an easily-used syring of Adrenalin.
"Don't wear dark clothes," he added. "Don't use scented perfumes, cosmetisc, hair sprays or after-shaves, dark colors and those odors are very attractive to bees, gnats and mosquitois. If there are bees around, don't wave your arms. It will only make them stay."
The doctors also said that the dangers from ticks, including the dangerous Rock Mountain spotted fever, are increasing and suggested that clothing and bodies be examined for ticks after an outing or a period spent sitting in the grass. Anyone with a rash, fever, chills, aches or fatigue that could be connected to ticks should see a doctor promptly.
If a tick is embedded, gently try to remove it, preferably with tweezers, grasping it just behind the head so the head won't stay embedded. Alcohol, fingernail polish remover kerosene will often loosen the tick; the heat of a cigeratte or match head may make it let go. But don't try to burn it or you may burn yourself. Wash hands well after handling ticks.
The least prominent peril of summer are snakes but they do exist in this area and there are copperheads in Rock Creek Park, said Dr. John Adams. "Snakes aren't looking for you. You're much more likely to find them. And even if you get bit, you usually have plenty of time to get to a hospital emergency room and very little chance of fatality."
In the United States last year there were only two or three deaths from snakebites but 150 deaths from bee, hornet, wasp and yellow jacket stings, according to Dr. Black.
If a rattler or the colorfully mottled copperhead does inject venom, Dr. Adams said, there will be redness, swelling or acute pain, but "you still have time to telephone for advice, then get to an emergency room. Try to kill or capture the snake so it can be identified. Don't cut into the wound or suck on one - you may infect it.
"Don't apply a tight tourniquet - you may cut off the blood supply. Wrap the bite in a clean dressing. If you have some ice, wrap it around too, inside something sterile. Don't run and get all excited and increase your blood circulation. You've got time."