Ask Eddy: Injector Gadgets?

You've got questions, Eddy's got answers

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 9.10.15 PM

Illustration by Aaron McKinney

What if I inject myself with an EpiPen?

Be warned from Eddy's personal experience: Fire yourself in the leg with an EpiPen, and you're gonna want some better drugs on hand, cause it's gonna suck. EpiPens are spring-loaded hypodermic needles full of epinephrine, prescribed to stop allergic overreactions so severe that the lungs don't work properly and the throat can close completely, which makes it hard to continue living. People with allergies to bee stings and shellfish often carry them around, especially when they're in the backcountry where ambulances don't go.

"It's not the kind of drug that makes you feel good," says Buck Tilton, author of Don't Get Poisoned: Protect Yourself from Wilderness Toxins. Epinephrine, a form of adrenaline, opens your airways and constricts your blood vessels. "Your heart pounds, you get a headache from lack of oxygen to the brain, you'll feel agitated," says Tilton. "Once you come down, you'll feel really tired."

So, the effects are similar to visiting Mother's for Tuna Mac-Tuesday. Unless you do a bunch of EpiPens, says Tilton, there's no real danger. Just don't inject yourself in the finger, he warns. The vessel constriction could choke off all oxygen to small a small appendage for so long it dies, as with frostbite. Overall, EpiPen use comes in on the fun scale somewhere between Scopolamine seasickness patches and snorting the contents of those desiccant packs that come in your freeze-dried Chili Mac.

What should I do if I spot a black bear cub in a tree?

The conventional wisdom on big animals is never get between a mother and a baby— goes for moose, bear, and as Eddy learned last week in the Piggly Wiggly cereal aisle, cart-wielding soccer moms. Grizzly bears out West routinely kill people who accidentally encounter momma bears with cubs. It's different for black bear, though, says Dr. Lynn Rogers, biologist at the Wildlife Research Institute. "They're naturally timid, so at the first sign of danger, the mother sends the bear cubs up a tree and then goes to hide herself," he says. "If you happen upon a bear cub in a tree, there's no need to be alarmed, as the mother is likely in another tree nearby and will stay there until you leave."

None of the black bear's traditional predators—grizzlies, wolves, and (10,000 years ago) saber-toothed cats— climb trees, says Rogers, so they evolved with this strategy. "The mother will huff, and the cubs just jump for the trees," Rogers says. Out of respect for the bears you should just let them be, but you are in no danger. Unless, like young Eddy, you find a cub has taken up fortifications in your backyard tree house, availing himself of your provisions. If there's Cap'n Crunch at stake, anything goes.

Eddy's Got Answers: Read more from Ask Eddy.

Got a question for Eddy? Email it to AskEddy@canoekayak.com