The benefits of spending time with family in nature far out way the risks of acquiring an illness from a bug bite. That said, the last thing you want is for your child to get eaten alive by insects or a disease from an infected tick or mosquito. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is warning of an increased risk of disease from tick and mosquito bites. Mosquitos can transmit the Zika virus along with other viruses and ticks can transmit many diseases such as Lyme Disease and now, the Powassan virus (POW). But, by taking a few simple precautions, you can help keep your kids safe on your camping and hiking adventures.
Use a Multipronged Strategy:
- Before heading outside, apply insect repellant containing Picardin (such as Natrapel) or DEET (N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) (such as OFF or BENZ). These are the most effective repellents for both ticks and mosquitos and they are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as safe for children two months and older. Follow package instructions and wash the repellent off when you return indoors.
- Pretreat your clothing and gear with Permethrin (such as Sawyer). Permethrin is an insecticide that was approved by the EPA for use on clothing, packs, tents, and shoes. It is not for use on skin. It is considered safe by the CDC and EPA for use on children’s clothing. You can apply it yourself. Follow package instructions. Several clothing and gear supplier’s factory-treat items with Permethrin.
- For infants under two months of age, avoid buggy situations for the first few months, and/or cover your infant carrier with bug netting and check your child for ticks and bites frequently.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts & pants when tolerable.
- Stay on the trail and avoid brushing up against trees and plants.
- Check everyone for ticks: scalp, underarms, legs, and in and behind ears.
- Carry a pair of tweezers and brush up on how to safely remove a tick. Remove ticks immediately.
Make bug bite prevention part of your routine. It’s not a 100% guarantee that you will eliminate the risk of a bug borne disease. But, if you take these steps, you will help to keep everyone safe and healthy on you outdoor adventures.
Jeff Alt is a family camping and hiking expert. He is the author of Get Your Kids Hiking: How to Start Them Young and Keep it Fun and several other award-winning outdoor books, A Walk for Sunshine (Appalachian Trail), Four Boots One Journey (John Muir Trail), and The Adventures of Bubba Jones (National Park your series). For more information, visit: www.Jeffalt.com