Teaching Kids Bug Safety

Outdoor pests are quite possibly the worst thing about summer. They sting, they bite, and they drive us indoors on even the most gorgeous days. Over the years, we learn how to handle harmful insects and avoid them whenever possible, but what may seem like common sense for adults could be a foreign concept to a child. We as their guardians, teachers, and loved ones have to protect them and teach them how to be safe from an array of pests when playing outdoors. With just a few simple rules, you can better protect your children in the summertime.

Avoid Certain Outdoor Areas

Tell your children what areas to avoid when playing outside. Spiders and ticks may be hiding in heavy shrubbery. Show them what a wasp nest looks like so they know to avoid any they come across. Standing water, such as small ponds or even bird baths, are where mosquitoes go to breed. For most people, mosquito bites only result in an irritating itch, but with West Nile on the rise, it is important to avoid mosquito bites whenever possible. Another helpful tip would be to light citronella candles when the kids are playing in the backyard. They give off a pleasant aroma and ambiance while driving a majority of mosquitoes away.

Sometimes you Need to Stay Inside

If possible, keep the kids inside at dawn and dusk. These are peak mosquito hours where those bloodsucking pests are out in full force. Sometimes during special family gatherings, we want to make the kids look more presentable. Even so, avoid using scented soaps, scented lotions, perfumes, and hairsprays. These strong fragrances are irresistible to mosquitoes. If your child is over 2 months old, you can use a repellant containing no more than 30% DEET on their skin, for their clothes it is acceptable to use repellant with a higher level of DEET. However, under no circumstances should you spray repellant on their hands because they may end up rubbing harmful chemicals into their eyes or mouth.

Teach Children to Avoid Bites

Most importantly, teach children how to avoid bites on their own. Teach them how to identify different harmful pests and where they might be hiding. Teach them how to check their clothes, shoes and bedding for any bugs that may have come inside with them. Tell them what to do if they accidentally disturb a stinging insect. If your child is bitten or stung, clean the wound, apply a cold compress, and give them ibuprofen or another safe painkiller to make them more comfortable and calm. Clip and clean their fingernails, telling them not to scratch the wound no matter how itchy it gets. Scratching the bite or sting, especially with dirty fingernails, can easily spread the insect venom and make the pain worse. With just a few precautions and some guidance, we can keep our kids safer while they play and explore the outdoors.