Disclaimer: I have to say that I am not a physician and nothing I tell you is a substitute for good medical care. I am an RN with many years of experience in Emergency Room care, but that does not qualify me to advise you in medicine when there are Emergency Rooms all over the USA with qualified physicians on duty to take care of your health problem. The things I’m going to tell you only apply in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Use any information I am going to give you at your own risk.
That being said, what do you do if you’re bitten by a striped bark scorpion? First of all, let’s make sure that’s what bit you. A striped bark scorpion (or Centruriodes vattatus) is native to Northern Mexico and the Central United States, but I’ve heard it can be found all over this great nation of ours. It’s certainly the most common scorpion encountered in the US. Now, in South West United States, there is such a creature as the Arizona Bark Scorpion. It’s the most venomous scorpion in the US, but the fatality numbers are so low, it’s probably more likely that you’ll die choking on asparagus. However, knowing the difference between the two types can save your life, or your dog or your goat or whatever you have. I recommend that you look at some pictures of them right now. It’s okay, I’ll be here when you get back. I could describe them all day long, but a picture is worth a thousand words. You’ll notice that the Striped Bark Scorpion is about two to three inches long and has two broad, black stripes running down the length of its back (it’s striped, who knew). The Arizona Bark Scorpion is similar in build, but it’s more of a uniform light brown. While the striped one is venomous and its sting is highly painful; I’ve never seen anyone have a reaction more than that of a typical wasp, bee or fire ant sting. That being said, most of the tips I’m going to give you are treatments for wasp, bee or fire ant stings too. Just remember, this article is not about the Arizona bark scorpion, just the striped variety.
An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. It certainly beats a mouthful of colorful expletives that you might have to explain to your small kids later on if you get stung. Striped bark scorpions tend to be nocturnal. That means they do most of their business at night. But, they sleep in cozy little places and tend be upset if you wake them; so don’t let your guard down because the sun is out. They really like dark and damp places, so if you have dark and damp places, take extra precautions. Be careful when lifting up old tree bark or wood that has been on the ground for more than a few hours. That also goes for rocks, bricks, tools, helicopters or anything that you might have laying around in the yard. When you bring firewood in, give it a good once over if you’re not putting it immediately on the fire. Keep your yard mowed and trim tree limbs so that they don’t touch your home. Invest in a cat, invest in two cats! Over the counter sprays and pesticides do very little if anything at all to kill scorpions, but cats will eat those little dudes up! If you live in the country, get some Guinea Fowl. Guineas are veracious little insectivores (omnivores, actually) and they’ll mostly leave your garden alone. You dog will be thankful for all the yummy ticks they take care of, also. As an added bonus, they lay eggs that taste like chicken eggs and cook up nicely with dumplings. Just be careful with your guineas because they’re very susceptible to predators, like cats.
Now that we know how to keep scorpions away from yourself, let’s talk about some other things we can do before TEOTWAWKI to minimize bad outcomes. After all, the very nature of prepping is having things ready before things go south. Get a tetanus shot. You should have one anyway. If you haven’t had one in the last ten years, make an appointment to get one first thing in the morning. Tetanus is a much more painful death than a scorpion sting. A tetanus shot is good for ten years, unless you have a scratch, then it’s five years. Getting one today will help you when there’s no doctor or ER to go to. Have lots of soap on hand. Also, know the difference between soap and detergent. Most soaps you buy today are just detergent that will cut grease and make you smell nice, but they really don’t disinfect. Look for antibacterial soaps. Just in the regular world, I don’t recommend them; but for TEOTWAWKI, they’ll become essential. Lye soap can disinfect. Learn how to make it, it’s not too difficult. Make sure you have access to clean water. It’s always a good idea to not only have clean water to drink, but for first aid, also. Always know how much you weigh and how much your children weigh. It’s terrible important. There are three medications I recommend having on hand. Benadryl and Ibuprofen or Aspirin are the two most useful. The third is an EpiPen, which is available by prescription only. We’ll talk about that one later. First, let’s cover immediate first aid.
If you get stung by a striped bark scorpion, the first thing you do is scream like a little girl and dance around because it hurts like a mad bastard. You’ll know it because it almost feels like a bee sting but worse. When you calm down and regain some self control, look at where it bit you. Is the insect still in a place where it can sting you again or sting one of your children as they run towards you to find out why you’re expressing your filthy mouth? Is it still on your pants leg? Go ahead and kill it. Don’t worry, they’re not endangered. God will make more. Smash it with a shoe, scoop a little dirt and then bury it so it won’t sting you or your kids again. Wash it with clean water and soap. If it’s today and the lights are on, regular soap is okay. If it’s post TEOTWAWKI, then you want to use an antibacterial soap or lye soap. The risk and incidence of infection will be so much higher. If you have ice, put ice on it, but for no more than twenty-four hours. Be careful with ice, too. Placing it directly on your skin can cause frost burn. Elevate your offended body part and keep it still for about twenty-four hours. Expect to have pain and some numbness in your entire extremity for up to forty-eight hours. Never be afraid to seek medical help. If you have a reliable family doctor or an Emergency Room within a day’s drive, go see them.
Warning! Math content ahead! Before we go any further, let’s take a minute to learn how to convert pounds to kilograms. It’ll be important later if you want to save your children’s life. You take a weight in pounds and either divide it by 2.2 or multiply it times 0.45. So, if you weigh 123 pounds, 123 X 0.45=55.35 kilograms (just round it off to 55). Okay, moving on.
Benadryl is useful as an antihistamine. Basically, when you have an insect sting, your body releases chemical called histamine. Histamine, in turn, triggers and inflammatory response. That is what makes a bite so red and itchy. Also, if you are prone to allergic reactions to insect stings, this can be helpful in saving your life. Any medications I tell you about are best taken as soon as possible. Let me repeat that, it’ll be on the test. In the event of a scorpion sting, take these meds as soon as you can get them in your body! In a true anaphylactic (allergic) emergency, seconds count! Benadryl works by blocking histamine, therefore blocking some inflammation. If you are an adult weighing over 100 pounds, take 50 milligrams. If you have pills, you’ve wasted your money, but we’ll talk about that later. If you have twenty-five milligram pills and that’s all you have, take two of them (twenty-five plus twenty-five equals fifty, see how that works?). The reason I say that the pills are a waste of money is that the liquid works much faster. It tastes horrible, it costs more and it’s hard to store, but the faster absorption can be the difference between life and death when seconds count. Remember seconds? If you are an adult weighing over one-hundred pounds and you have Benadryl liquid that is 12.5 milligrams in a teaspoon, then take four teaspoons. If one of your children gets stung, give them Benadryl at 1 to 2 milligrams per kilogram. So, if your kid weighs 50 pounds, that’s 22.5 kilograms. 2 milligrams per kilogram turns out to be 45 milligrams of medicine (2X22.5=45). 45 milligrams divided by 12.5 milligrams = 3.6 teaspoons. Since there’s 5 milliliters in a teaspoon, we will give 18 milliliters (3.6 X 5=18).
Wow, have a headache yet?
Now, let’s talk about Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen, Motrin and Advil are all the same thing. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory. So, after the histamine makes inflammation, the Ibuprofen will kick in. Still, don’t waste any time taking it. It’s okay to mix Benadryl and Ibuprofen. For grownups weighing more than 100 pounds, take 400 milligrams. Again, take a liquid. If your Ibuprofen is mixed 100 milligrams to one teaspoon for the kids give 5 milligrams per kilogram. So, if your child weighs 50 pounds, that’s 22.5 kilograms. 5 milligrams per kilogram turns out to be 112.5 milligrams of medicine (5 X 22.5=112.5). 112.5 milligrams divided by 100 milligrams = 1.125 teaspoons. We’ll just give one teaspoon.
Burns your eyes, don’t it?
Okay, next let’s talk about EpiPens. No more math, I promise. An EpiPen is available by prescription only. It’s a shot that you give to yourself if you’re having an allergic reaction to anything, insect bites included. If you need one, make sure you see your family physician, get a prescription, get it filled and carry it with you at all times. It contains a prescribed dose of adrenaline to get you to the ER so that doctors and nurses can take it from there. If you can’t get to an ER, say a little prayer. If you know you’re allergic to insect bites and you get one in a TEOTWAWKI situation, always use your EpiPen, because it’s the best chance you have. If you use one or not, go ahead and pray. It’s never too late to get yourself right with God.
What are the symptoms you might experience when stung by a striped bark scorpion? Let’s see. The site will be red. It’ll be painful if you mash on it. Check and make sure there’s not a stinger left in there. A scorpion won’t leave a stinger, but a bee will and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. If you see a stinger, scrape it out with a clean fingernail. Numbness and tingling. Those are the local signs. You might sweat, vomit or feel palpitations (heart fluttering). That’s less common, but it’s a sign of a more serious reaction. If you get dizzy, feel your throat and lips swelling, get restless or irritable, that’s even more serious.
The most important rule of all is to stay calm. Running around in circles and acting like a chicken with its head cut off gets you nowhere. People make mistakes when they panic and panic is much more dangerous than any insect known to man. No matter what, if you’re not sure what to do, always ask somebody who knows. Again, this information is for use only in TEOTWAWKI. Otherwise, use it at your own risk.