My baby girl loves being outside and there are amazing parks and paths near our house to explore. But, I’ve been hesitant to venture with her into the wilderness because of all of the scary reports about ticks. According to the experts, ticks are out in full force this season due to a warm winter, and being bitten by a tick is more dangerous than ever. Below are five things you and your family can do to avoid ticks. I know I’ll be following all of these suggestions until the summer’s over!
1. Watch more television
Just kidding. Kids can still play outside…but with caution. The easiest way to avoid tick bites is to stay away from their preferred habitat. That includes brush and high grass in and around wooded areas. Don’t let your children sit on stone walls, lean up against trees or sit on the ground where ticks are likely to be. Try to stick to dry, open sunny areas when playing outside. (Tip courtesy of: Harvard Medical School)
2. Forget fashion
Even though it may not be the most hip look these days, it’s a good idea to dress your kids in long-sleeved shirts and pants, and to tuck pant legs into their socks or boots. It also helps to wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be spotted more easily. (Tip courtesy of: This Old House)
3. Try a DIY tick repellant concoction
While many sources recommend using a repellant containing 20% DEET, you and your little ones may prefer to roll your sleeves up and try making your own natural tick repellant containing vegetable oil, aloe vera and rose geranium and lavender essential oils. This is great practice for upcoming science experiments!
4. Check all secret hiding places
Once kids return from outdoor play, check them for ticks everywhere! Don’t forget to look under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in their hair. (Tip courtesy of: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Showering after being outside has also been shown to reduce the risk of tick bites.
5. Don’t open the door to strangers
Strange bugs that is. Ticks can live on clothes and on pets for days and then transfer to people so don’t let them bypass scrutiny by latching onto clothing or Fido if you can help it. Putting clothes in the dryer 20 minutes on high heat will help kill any unseen ticks (a wash cycle will not). (Tip courtesy of: TickEncounter Resource Center)
Good luck avoiding potentially dangerous ticks this season. And remember, always seek the advice of your own doctor if you have questions regarding your own health or the health of your family.