By: Avery Cotton
Summer is a perfect time for kids to enjoy the great outdoors. But summer camps can be crawling with critters, some just annoying, others a health hazard. Consumer Reports says there are steps you can take to help ward off unwanted insects and parasites, keeping your campers happy and healthy.
We’ll start with mosquitoes. More than just an itchy annoyance, these bloodsuckers can carry a number of diseases. Among the most common is West Nile virus. Thousands of cases are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year. Ticks can carry a number of diseases, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
Bug repellent is a camp essential. For the best protection against mosquitoes and ticks, CR suggests looking for products that contain 15 to 30 percent Deet, which the CDC says is safe for use on children over two months old. Even so, children shouldn't handle insect repellent themselves; adults should apply it to them.
Ticks are a particular danger in grassy or wooded areas. If your campers will be hiking or spending time in tall grass, it’s best to keep them well-covered in long pants, socks, and closed-toed shoes. Go ahead and tuck their pants into their socks. And long sleeves are good.
As for natural repellents, CR testing has found they generally offer very little protection.
Another creepy crawly—lice—is mostly spread through head to head contact. It takes just 3 or 4 seconds for a bug to spread from one person to the next.
Making matters worse, a majority of lice are now resistant to many over the over-the-counter treatments. You’ll have to comb out the nits and bugs, preferably with a metal comb. The tines should be very close. A plastic comb won’t work as well.
And while there are products like shampoos or sprays that manufacturers claim will repel lice,
Consumer Reports says to save your money. There’s little evidence they’ll work.