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What you need to know about tick prevention while out on the trail

  • Apr 18, 2016

Warm weather and the return of flowers, grass and greenery is good news for outdoor enthusiasts eager to head out on the season's first hiking or camping trip. Unfortunately, spring and summer are also when the threat of coming across a dangerous tick is at its highest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks can harbor a number of very serious ailments. Perhaps the most well-known, Lyme Disease, can lead to rashes and eventually spread to the joints and even heart. 

Ticks can be a problem not just for you, but for your children or dog while out on the trail. By following a few comprehensive safety measures, you may be able to minimize the risks associated with ticks and avoid any unpleasant situations.

Before you leave: think ahead
The Daily Record reported that because most of the U.S. experienced such a mild winter in 2016, tick populations may be inflated in the warmer months of the year. For that reason, tick prevention is especially important. 

If you are headed to an area with lots of vegetation, such as tall grass or bushes, it is essential to protect your body using tall socks or long sleeves. Otherwise, using an insect repellent with DEET can also improve your chances of avoiding a dangerous encounter. This will not kill the ticks like it may other bugs, but it can serve as a deterrent. 

On the trail: make good choices
Once you're out and about hiking through the woods, there are simple ways to reduce the threat of being bitten by a tick even further. Staying in the center of trails and not letting vegetation rub against your arms or legs is an important and simple way to avoid these bugs.

Staying in the sun is also helpful for minimizing risks related to ticks, Live Science explained. High heat and prolonged UV exposure will kill them in just a few hours, which is why they prefer the shelter of wet leaves or shaded environments. You may be able to protect yourself with sunscreen, but the ticks can't, meaning a nice, sunny strip of trail will likely be devoid of the bugs.

After the fact: do a thorough tick check
The first thing you should do once you've returned home from a hiking trip is to inspect your body for ticks. If you are out for a long period of time or camping over night, it may be best to do this periodically while out on the trail. 

Slowly look for any evidence of a tick. This is probably best done in the shower. It may be possible that the bugs are stuck in your body hair, but you may find you have been bitten. If you have, carefully use a pair of tweezers to remove the entire tick. If you rush, you may not remove the jaws of the animal. Place the tick on a piece of tape or in a plastic bag, and if you develop flu symptoms or a rash, Live Science stated you should bring the bug to a doctor or state health official for testing. It is also critical that you inspect your children or a dog for any potential unwanted bugs and follow the same protocol should you find a tick.

If you have traveled or camped in an area that is known to have especially high tick rates, be sure to wash your clothes and supplies as soon as possible and either leave them in the sun or put them in the dryer on high heat to kill off any bugs. 

Don't let ticks keep you from enjoying Mother Nature with your family. Stay safe and sound by being on alert and staying on the trail with the help of the Pro Trek PAG240T-7 with built-in compass.

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