Summer is prime time for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, taking walks and gardening. Ticks thrive in humid weather and are prevalent to dwell in tall grass, wooded areas and bushes. They can infect you with viruses, parasites and bacteria and a number of different diseases. Not all ticks cause illness but it is still important to follow these steps to avoid them at all costs.
- There are repellents that can be sprayed on clothing, shoes and tents. You can also find ones that wash into your clothing. Get a repellent with at least 20% DEET. It will protect you for hours, but depending on how long you’re outside you may have to reapply. If you want something natural you can find them at your local health food stores or online.
- When you’re getting ready to go out wear appropriate clothing. Try to have as little exposed skin as possible. Even though it’ll be hot, light cotton clothing breathes well and keeps you protected. Wearing light colored clothing makes it much easier to spot ticks. Ticks can easily get up sleeves and pant legs. Tuck your shirt in your pants and tuck pant legs into shoes or socks. If you have long hair it is best to keep it tied up and to wear a hat.
- There are a number of ways to keep your yard safe from ticks. Keep your grass short and put down wood chips, mulch or gravel around the perimeter of your yard. Keep children’s playhouses and toys, picnic tables and lawn chairs at least nine feet away from bushes or woods. If you live in a region with deer, fence in your gardens or get plants that they are not attracted to, because they can bring ticks into your yard. Mice (they like wood piles) also carry ticks.
- When you get home check your clothing first. Check your children and pets. If you find a tick or just want to be extra safe, put your clothing in the dryer on high for 30 minutes to an hour. This will kill any ticks that may be in your clothing. Shower as soon as possible. It will wash away ticks that have yet to bite you, and it is a perfect time to do a full body check for any that have attached to your skin. Check in places that get moist like: armpits, behind knees, in belly button, in and around ears, your legs and thighs and, of course, in your hair.
- If you find an attached tick get tweezers and a jar or bag. Pull the tick gently and straight out and as close to the skin as possible. Do not crush or squeeze it. Place the tick in the jar or bag so that if you become ill you can show your doctor what type of tick has bitten you. Wash up with soap and water after removing the tick.
Check yourself, your kids and pets daily if you are in a tick-heavy area. Where you live, how long the tick was on you and what kind of tick it is will determine what illness you might receive from the bite. If you develop a rash, fever, pain in joints and neck, or chills, contact a doctor as soon as possible.