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Protect Your Children From the Buzzing Biters

by Tania Cowling | July 29th, 2014 | Preschool, Safety

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASummer is upon us and the weather is beautiful. It’s a time for pleasurable outdoor excursions and events, except for the buzzing biters – the mosquito. And this year where I live in Florida we have a new invader that even bites during the day. This small, black Aedes aegypti mosquito even comes indoors to feast on our exposed skin and carries a new tropical virus other than the West Nile virus.

During these days of summer it’s important to protect our children, as well as ourselves, from the pesky mosquito that causes misery to many with itchy, red bumps. It’s time to survey your home to find any sources of standing water. The Florida Department of Health calls this practice the “drain and cover.” Get rid of any excess water that collects in garbage cans, buckets, bird baths, roof gutters, flower pots, pool covers, even plants that have pockets that can hide water, such as bromeliads. With all the rain we have been having across the country, we must use safe measures to empty water sources daily. Make sure to empty and refresh your pet’s bowl of water daily too, if you keep one in the yard or even on a deck or patio.

Now, this new tiny mosquito in Florida can be found buzzing and breeding inside our homes. They navigate toward wet areas such as drips near the sink, refrigerator icemakers, and even toothbrush holders – wherever water collects. And for all mosquitoes make sure your window screens have no holes.

So what can you do to protect the kids?

If you are outdoors when the mosquitoes are active (mostly dusk to dawn), make sure to dress the children in long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and shoes. This is a tough call for most kids, especially during hot, muggy days. You can check with your pediatrician, but there are kid-safe repellents that can be placed on bare skin and clothing that contains lemon eucalyptus and/or picaridin oil. If you use a repellent with DEET, the concentration shouldn’t be higher than 30 percent, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics, and never use it on babies under two months of age. Also avoid placing repellent directly on the face or on open cuts or wounds.

I have also heard that using scented products like perfume, soaps, hair products, and even scented dryer sheets on clothes attracts insects, including mosquitoes. And, it may be wise to avoid bright colors and flower prints on clothing. Experts claim this is another attraction to summer bugs.

What do I do if my child gets a bite?

Cool compresses help to calm down the redness and itch, as well as a dab of baking-soda paste (made with a dab of water). Check with your doctor about using calamine lotion and/or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. And by all means, if your child develops a fever, bad headache, or a bite that looks infected, get immediate help.

Summer doesn’t have to be all that “buggy, “ as long as you follow these protective measures.

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