Safety Tips for National Preparedness Month – Part III
They don't call Arizona the Wild West for nothing. Even though we have done a pretty good job settling and establishing major cities and no longer operate under unruly Old West laws, Arizonans are still prone to their own unique dangers. September is National Preparedness Month, and considering that an average adult spends the majority of their waking life working, chances are good that you will be at your place of employment during an emergency. Whether it's the weather, some of our infamous critters or dry and prickly cacti, Arizona features don't disappear just because you are on the clock. Each Tuesday in September, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health is providing tips on being prepared in the workplace. Just like our haboobs and saguaros, Arizona is home to some flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet. While many desert dwellers like to avoid people just as must as we want to avoid them, there are a few that have learned to live among humans, posing unique dangers. Here are five common pests that you’ve probably run into. Snakes- One of the most recognizable snakes in the world is the rattler. It is also one of the most dangerous. Luckily for us, the feature that gives them their name acts as a warning to potential predators. If you ever to hear that signature sound, tread cautiously. Rattlesnake bites are not typically deadly, but can be or can result in loss of appendages if not treated. Seek immediate medical attention and keep the limb still to reduce the amount of blood flow. Tie a tourniquet to separate the area from the rest of the body but not so tight that you restrict all flow. Saguaro Cactus – Saguaros can weigh more than 3,000 lbs. and grow up to 60 feet tall. Arms can detach, creating thorny, falling projectiles. Deaths from falling cactus are rare, but do exist. If you are worried about unstable cacti, call a professional as removing saguaros is illegal on top of being dangerous. Perhaps more threatening than the cactus itself is what can be dwelling inside… Killer Bees – Bees love to make their homes inside hollowed saguaros. Arizona has much more than your average honey bee, we are one of the only states in the US to host Africanized, or Killer, bees. They are more aggressive in nature that other bees and will not hesitate to attack as a swarm when threatened. If you even spot a hive, back away slowly and call pest control immediately. Never, under any circumstance should you try remove a hive without professional help. Dry brush – In Arizona we are more susceptible not only to forest fires but to house fires and office building fires due to our dry climate. While it is easy to associate dry brush with forest fire danger, dry brush can be found in urban areas as well. Clear dry and dead brush, branches and leaves away from the base of a building and trim any low handing branches. If you see potentially hazardous materials near your office building, alert your building manager immediately. Also be sure that your sprinkler systems are inspected and up-to-date. Spiders – Brown Recluses and Black Widows are both common in Arizona and are among the deadly spiders in the world. Two of the biggest threats these spiders pose are their small size and delicate nature, which allow them to go unnoticed for most of their lives. Prevent an unwanted encounter by wearing protective gear when going through dark, dusty areas like your garage and storage areas, and be extra cautious when using patio furniture and other outdoor items. Never put your hand in a place you can’t see and always turn over objects so the underside is first exposed away from you. If bit by a spider, seek medical attention regardless if you are certain of the species. Cactus –While saguaros are the “Granddaddy” of cactus, what some lack in size they make up for in in seriously painful spines. Teddy Bear and Jumping Chollas, may sound cute and can appear to be soft and fuzzy, but the low-hanging branches easily detached and seem to “jump” onto a passer-byer. The small thorns are virtually invisible on the skin, but incredibly difficult to remove and extremely painful. If stuck by a cholla, do not use your hand to try to remove them, but rather, use a fine tooth comb in small areas. If you fall into a cholla and a large percentage of your body is covered, seek medical attention. Scorpions – Scorpions are one of the most feared creatures in Arizona, and it is no wonder why. The armored, nocturnal beings are equipped with a stinger and pinchers that make up the majority of its body. However, scorpion stings are rarely deadly. The most venomous scorpion in North America is the Arizona Bark Scorpion, whose venom causes severe pain lasting up to 72 hours. Of the estimated thousands of stings reported each year, only two fatalities have been recorded in Arizona. However, this does NOT mean to brush off a sting like you would a honeybee, as everyone’s reactions are different and some symptoms include paralysis and seizure-like neuro-motor syndromes. Seek medical attention immediately if stung.