We all know that it’s important to protect our kids from things like the sun, dehydration, and drowning risks like swimming pools and lakes. But one aspect of summer safety that often gets overlooked is bug safety. Bugs love the warmer weather just as much as we do. But, a nasty bite or sting can quickly put a damper on your kids’ summer fun. Here are a few things to look out for when it comes to bug safety as we roll right into the summer months:
Watch for Allergic Reactions
It’s important to keep an eye on your children if they are bitten or stung by an insect to make sure they don’t have an anaphylactic, or dangerous and rapidly progressing allergic reaction. Severe reactions are most commonly attributed to stings by bees, hornets, or wasps. If you notice any of the following reactions after a sting or bite, your child is likely having an anaphylactic reaction and you should call 911 immediately.
- Swelling of the face including eyes, tongue, and lips
- Difficulty breathing
- Throat tightness
- Faint or lightheadedness
If you are taking your children into a wooded or grassy area, dress them in long sleeves, long pants, and a hat to protect them from ticks. Light (but not bright), solid colors are best for seeing any ticks on their clothing. Just don’t go too bright or you’ll attract bees! When it’s time to go back inside, it’s a good idea to have your child shower and check your child’s entire body for ticks paying special attention to:
If you have pets that play or walk outside, check them regularly for ticks as well so they don’t share them with your kids.
Stay Away from Standing Water
Standing or stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Dump out bird baths, buckets, fish ponds, or baby pools regularly to avoid turning your yard into a mosquito nursery.
Reach for the DEET
If your children will be playing out in the woods, near standing water, or in an area that is prone to pesky insects, spray them down with DEET. Bug sprays containing DEET should only be used when needed but they are important for preventing insect-related diseases such as Lyme Disease from ticks and West Nile and Zika virus from mosquitoes. The AAP and CDC recommend children over 2 months old use bug sprays that contain 10% to 30% DEET.
The effectiveness for bug sprays containing 10% to 30% DEET is similar, but the duration of effect varies. Ten percent DEET provides protection for around 2 hours, while 30% protects for around 5 hours. If you are only going to be outside for an hour or so, go with 10%. But, if you know your kids will be out all day, choose 30% so you don’t have to reapply. DEET concentrations vary by product and brand, so be sure to read the label carefully.