Tick season is upon us and as we all rush outdoors to enjoy the warm weather, it’s important to be prepared for the very real possibility of picking up one of these nasty freeloaders. Knowing what to do when you find one, and the best ways to prevent your family and pets getting any to begin with, is integral for anyone that plans to enjoy the great outdoors.
Ticks live in moist humid environments especially near wooded and grassy areas. They don’t actually have the ability to jump or fly onto a person, but instead wait patiently on leaves and grasses for something warm blooded to pass closely enough to hitch a ride, and climb on. Unfortunately hikers, campers and pets are especially vulnerable. Not only is the idea of them sucking your blood enough to make your skin crawl, they have the potential to transmit disease.
- Stay on the trails! Which is a great lesson to teach your kids. Educate them on the reasons why we need to respect nature by not stomping through it, plus it will keep them away from areas that ticks typically are found.
- Stick to the middle of the path to ensure you don’t brush past bushes. Avoid wooded and grassy areas with tall grass and lots of leaves on the ground.
- Wear high hiking boots or tuck pant cuffs into your socks. Protect your head by wearing a hat.
- When taking a break, sit on a bare rock or an area free of plants. Avoid relaxing and stretching out in the grass or among other vegetation.
- Applying an insect repellent containing DEET can protect you for several hours.
- Get your vet to advise on the right Tick repellent product for your animals before taking them out to areas that might be prone to ticks.
- Keep your own yard tidy and free from debris and leaf litter. Keep playground equipment away from trees and bushes.
As important as it is to plan and prevent before you head outside, as well as be aware while you are enjoying yourself in tick territory, proper steps should be taken when you return home. Bathe or shower as soon as possible in case any are crawling on you and do a thorough full body check on yourself, your children and pets especially under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in in the hair. Tumble dry your clothes you were wearing in a dryer on a high heat for 10 minutes to kill any Ticks that could be on clothing.
- Carry a pair of pointed tweezers with you in your first aid kit and find the head of the tick with your tweezers.
- Carefully pull straight out without squeezing the body of the tick as this can cause the tick to inject saliva or blood into your skin and increase your risk of disease.
- Examine the tick to ensure no parts of it have been left behind. If any has, have a doctor remove it.
- Wash the area and the tweezers with antiseptic right away.
- If you develop any sort of fever, chills, aches or pains, see a doctor immediately.
With the right amount of preventative measures, and a bit of extra caution outside, you won’t have to let Ticks ruin your fun. Having the right gear and first aid supplies with you whenever you are outdoors will also help to keep everyone happy and safe.
Want more information about ticks and which ones to watch out for in British Columbia? The BC Government page is a great resource!
Looking for other ways to keep you safe while out and enjoying nature? It’s always important to be prepared! Here is some great Tips about Bear and Wildlife Safety.
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Article Written By: Kirsty Tran