The Huron County Health Department is warning residents that yellow jacket wasps are especially active this time of year. The department advises caution — especially for those people potentially allergic to stings.
Yellow jacket wasps are especially attracted to open food containers because their natural food resources are diminished this time of year, according to the health department.
That means the wasps are more likely to come into contact with humans, and they can act aggressively. If a yellow jacket stings, the immediate area around the sting will swell within two to three minutes, followed by redness, itching, pain and formation of a welt.
To treat a sting, apply cold packs in 10 minute increments, and use antihistamines and pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling.
Someone experiencing an allergic reaction may have hives, swelling of the lips, tightening of the throat and chest, rapid heartbeat, faintness and confusion. Death is possible in severe cases within 15 and 30 minutes. Anyone having an allergic reaction to a sting should be taken for immediate medical care.
Those who know they have an allergy should carry an emergency sting kit and a medical alert tag as a precaution.
The health department provides the following tips to help avoid yellow jacket stings:
• Do not swat, strike or swing at them. Yellow jackets attack and sting when aggravated.
• Wear heavy clothing when walking in wooded areas. Yellow jackets can sting through light weight fabrics.
• Avoid scented perfumes, hairspray, lotions and brightly colored clothes. Yellow jackets are attracted to them.
• Keep garbage cans tightly covered.
• Do not picnic near open trash containers or dumpsters.
• Look before you drink. Yellow jackets are attracted to sodas, juices and alcohol and could be on the rim of the can or inside.
• Be careful not to mow over a nest in the ground or disturb an above-ground nest.
• Don’t smash or crush a Yellow jacket. They give off an alarm pheromone that alerts others in the area to attack.
• Never try to burn or flood a nest with water since this will only make Yellow jackets angry. Have a professional exterminator remove nests.