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Vineyard Safety

This is the fourth (and last) page devoted to our little stinging companions who may show up for the harvest. It's an important message. Please take the time to read it.

The first thing you should ask a picker is, "Have you ever been stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet?" If the answer is yes, that's a good sign. The respondent to your question is standing there talking to you and is not likely to be allergic to stinging insects to the point where life is threatened. Ask if there were any memorable symptoms to this unpleasant incident such as difficulty breathing and dizziness. Ask if a physician had to be consulted and what his/her treatment and comments were.

In the case of someone who has not been stung, you have a potential problem on your hands. If there is no history of reaction to stinging insects, the individual could be allergic to stings to a degree you have to be concerned with. We are told that the most severe reaction causes cardiac arrest at a gradual rate. Shortness of breath and dizziness are symptoms of the heart deciding to shut down operations. Coma or death may follow in 20 to 30 minutes unless treatment is provided.

For the individual aware of the allergy, a couple of devices are available in any pharmacy through a physician's prescription. One such device is an "E Pen", a disposable syringe of epinephrine, which reportedly does a good job. For the unknowing and therefore unequipped individual who may have a severe reaction and require the emergency squad, a massive shot of adrenaline injection near the heart may be necessary.

If your vineyard is in a remote area where paramedics will require more than 5 minutes to respond, you should consider having on-site capability to treat an unwary victim. Ask the closest emergency squad for advice and/or training. If training is involved, make sure there is always someone present at harvest time to treat victims. In any case, make sure paramedics in your area know you have pickers working your harvest who may be unaware of their potential for severe allergic reaction to insect stings.

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