Avoid The Biggest Nuisance Of Summer With These Simple Tips

Summer is the season we are most likely to participate in activities outdoors.

Picnics, campouts, hiking – they’re all wonderful ways to spend time, but these activities also present the perfect environment for animal and insect bites.

Parents are right to be concerned when their child gets a bite or sting, so it’s best to know what to look for and how to treat it!

Playing outside often means coming into contact with unfamiliar neighborhood pets, or even wild animals.

And when children and animals are unfamiliar with each other, it can be a recipe for disaster. 

Young children may not know to keep their distance, and even friendly cats and dogs can become frightened and bite a child who is visiting for the first time.

In fact, dog bites account for 90 percent of animal bites in the U.S. annually, followed by cats.  

Toddlers and preschoolers are the age group most likely to be bitten by a neighborhood or even family pet due to their impulsivity and rapid movements.

The most important first step to take when a child is bitten by a cat or dog is to thoroughly clean the area with soap and water, then apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and discomfort.  

And don’t forget a healthy dose of cuddling and reassurance.  It can be very traumatic when a child is bitten by an animal, and it may take some time to get over the fear that it could happen again.

Fortunately, we often know the owners of a neighborhood cat or dog – or it may be our own household pet – so we are able to make sure the animal is healthy.

While it’s rare and often only occurs while camping or hiking, it is possible for a child to be bitten by a wild animal such as a raccoon, fox, or bat.  

Disinfecting the wound remains the most immediate concern, so it is always important to be prepared with a first aid kit when spending time outdoors away from home.

In this case, it is very important to contact local animal control and visit an emergency room to determine any course of treatment in the case of rabies or other dangerous illness transmitted by the animal.

Now, summer means sun, sand, water – and bugs!  In fact, if you ask anyone what they dislike about summer, it’s usually all the mosquitos, ticks, bees, and other biting, stinging, annoying creatures that like to interfere in our plans.

While animal bites can often be avoided by closely monitoring the kids around unfamiliar pets or while playing, insect bites are almost impossible to avoid.

It seems that bees and wasps swoop in out of nowhere — and mosquitos?  The swarm is constant.

There are many things we can do as parents to prevent the likelihood of insect bites.

Insects are attracted to bright clothing, sweet-smelling perfumes and soaps, and sugary foods like that melting popsicle your child is probably covered in.

Avoiding these things can help, as well as teaching kids that bees, spiders, and other insects will often congregate in the woods, gardens, and around bushes and trees in the yard.

When outdoors for long periods of time, especially while camping or hiking, everyone should wear light-colored and light-weight clothing that covers arms and legs, as well as a hat or cap to prevent ticks from taking hold in hard to spot areas like long hair.

And although running through the grass in bare feet is a summertime ritual, make sure kids always wear shoes.  Even when running through the sprinkler, a pair of water shoes can prevent them from being bitten or stung from biting ants or hornets who burrow underground.

If your child is stung by a bee or wasp, first make sure the stinger is not still in their skin by checking the area.  If a stinger is present, a flat piece of plastic like a credit card can be used to scrape it free.

Treatment for insect bites is often the same as with animal bites – thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and applying ice for swelling.

Always be aware of signs of allergic reaction like difficulty breathing or speaking, confusion, hives, headache or dizziness, or vomiting.  These symptoms always require emergency medical assistance.

Check the kids every night at bath time for ticks that may have latched on while playing, as well as checking skin for signs of bites that have a strange color or pattern.  

The bites of ticks and poisonous spiders often leave a “bullseye” pattern on the skin.  These bites often go unnoticed when they first occur but can cause serious illness over time.  Always consult your pediatrician if you see anything out of the ordinary.

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And as for those pesky mosquitos, they are most active at dusk.  If you are outdoors with the family at this time, cover up arms and legs and try a few natural repellants.

Diluted essential oils like lavender, cinnamon leaf, and citronella are natural insect repellants.  Many of these, like lavender oil, can also relieve itching and swelling from insect bites.

Apple cider vinegar can also be applied to bites and even sprayed around the yard to detract insects.  

Minced garlic is also a good repellant and can be spread around garden beds or bushes.

And adding plants to your garden like lavender, citronella grass, nasturtiums, and petunias – all of which repel insects – add beauty and natural protection to your landscape.

Always empty containers in the yard like buckets, wading pools, or flower pots of any excess water from rain or play as insects, especially mosquitos, are attracted to stagnant water.

Keep an eye out for wasp nests, hives, or large spider webs on the house or in the yard, and call an expert to remove anything that may put the family in danger.

A little planning, preparation, and a watchful eye can help prevent the most annoying part of summer – so take care, and help your family stay bite-free this season!

Do you have any tips for preventing animal and insect bites in the summer months?  How about natural plants and repellants that your family relies on?  Leave us your ideas.

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