Mother Nature's First Aid Guide

This first aid guide will help you take care of injuries when Mother Nature's inhabitants strike back.

| July/August 1970


Treatment of a rattlesnake bite must be started promptly. First, put a tourniquet between the bite and the heart and tighten the tourniquet to block the veins, but not the artery.

Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

Reprinted with permission from Willamette Bridge. 

The first few pleasant days of spring always bring thousands of pale, moldy humans bursting from their caves to renew an acquaintance with Ma Nature. For most people, this is a relatively non-traumatic experience. But for some — especially the hard-core urbanites and those with short memories — the adventure may be akin to crossing a freeway blindfolded. You have only to spend an idle hour or two in any hospital emergency room on Sunday afternoon from mid-May through August to get an idea of the scope of the problem.

Therefore, we offer some general guides of what to do (or, often, what not to do) when Nature retaliates and you need first aid. Most of this is well covered in any standard first-aid manual, but we will try to condense some of the important information into a few paragraphs. The following is, necessarily, highly selective ... so if your favorite injury or poisoning is not covered, you are invited to look it up yourself.

First Aid for Flying and Crawling Things

Bees (including wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, etc.) scare many people half to death but only rarely are their stings really dangerous. For the vast majority, bee stings are painful and sometimes swell quite badly but — once the sting has occurred — there is little or nothing to do. Nothing that you rub or spray on the skin, swallow or say to the bee is going to make much difference.

If a honey bee stings and leaves the stinger sticking in you (which is usually what happens), try to remove it promptly without squeezing the little poison sacs attached to the stinger. That will inject more of the venom and make the sting worse.

Occasionally people faint, and — very unusually — may go into anaphylactic shock (severe shock, convulsions and even death) after a sting. This shock should be treated like any other shock or severe injury: Protect the individual from further injury, keep him warm, provide shade if he is in direct sunlight, help him breathe if necessary and GET HELP.

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