The days are long, the weather is warming up and you’re spending more time outdoors with your family. Nature can improve outlook and focus, ease depression and strengthen the immune system, but it is not without its hazards. Here are some tips on how to deal with these common problems:

Bug bites:

Most are harmless, and redness, swelling, itching and tenderness at the site are normal. Wash bites with soap and water. Apply an ice or a cold pack to the skin for 10-20 minutes to reduce pain and swelling. Calamine lotion or a paste of baking soda and water can be applied several times a day until pain and itching cease.

Bee stings:

Immediately remove the stinger it to limit venom injected. Redness and swelling for 1-2 days is normal and may be treated with a cold compress. Call 911 if your child develops itching, tingling or swelling of the lips or tongue, difficulty breathing, cough or wheezing. If your child has had a severe reaction in the past, be sure to carry an Epi pen (epinephrine) to treat symptoms immediately.

Poison ivy or oak:

Wash the affected area if you know you’ve been exposed, as well as any clothing or equipment that may have come into contact with the plant. Symptoms include itching, redness and perhaps small bumps, hives or blisters. Soak the area with a wet cloth and use calamine lotion to relieve itching.

Snake bites:

These need to be taken more seriously, especially if you’re in an area with venomous rattlesnakes such as the Yakima Valley. Move away from the snake, but try to remember its color and shape, which may help with treatment. Seek medical attention or call 911, especially if the bite area changes color, swells or is painful. Keep the victim still and calm, and remove jewelry and tight clothing of the affected limb before it swells. Avoid use of a tourniquet or ice and do not attempt to remove the venom in any way, including suction by mouth.

Dr. Jennifer Pontarolo is a family physician at Apple Valley Family Medicine. Dr. Pontarolo lives in Yakima with her husband, Mark, dog, Gracie, and cats Amos and Andy. She likes to ski, hike, travel and read in her spare time.