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Posts Tagged ‘camping with kids’

I may be a little too nonchalant about ticks as I grew up in southern Massachuttes where they are as common as Dunkin Donuts and Red Sox fans. But some things have changed. First, Lyme Disease is becoming more prevalent and spreading. Check out the interactive map from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) here and see how it has spread over 10 years! Ten years ago the White Mountains did not see any cases of Lyme disease, but as the map indicates it has reached us, so it’s time to learn how to protect yourself, and most importantly your little ones, from this disease!

Alex on Slackline

Right after taking this picture my wife spotted Alex’s first tick… can you see it?

First you should be able to recognize the Blacklegged Tick (also called the deer tick). Most transmissions are from nymph’s because they are harder to see.

ticks at different life stages

The good news is it usually takes 24-48 hours of attachment for a tick to transmit the disease! With regular full body checks (bath time/pajama time) you should not panic if you find an attached tick!

Tick season in the White Mountains is from May to September. The best defense is a 3 pronged approach. Defend your kids, defend your pets, and defend your yard. Let’s start with the first line of defense, the yard!

This is taken directly from the CDC website:

Create a Tick-Safe Zone Through Landscaping

You can make your yard less attractive to ticks depending on how you landscape. Here are some simple landscaping techniques that can help reduce tick populations:

Tick Safe Landscaping

 

  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
  • Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

While there are pesticides that are effective at controlling tick populations we prefer the natural battle first. If you live in a very high risk area it might be worth investigating an early Spring treatment with an acaracide (tick pesticide), such as bifenthin.

Protect your pets!

Our canine and feline friends can easily transport ticks from outside to in, so during tick season there are a few things that can reduce the risk. The above yard landscaping is a great first defense. Then a quick brush and check every time your pet comes inside from playing in the yard can find ticks before they find a good hiding space to attach. Tick & flea baths and repellents will go far at reducing risk. For more info on protecting your pets check out this page on the CDC website.

Protect your yourself and your little ones!

The CDC’s first recommendation is “Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter”. This is near impossible for a family that hikes as much as we do. It just isn’t going to happen. So for us early detection is key. Remember it takes 24-48 hours of attachment for a tick to transmit the disease! I check Alex as best as possible when we get back to the car, then again at home.

While DEET is approved for babies over 2 months old we feel it is too toxic for us to feel comfortable applying it to our thumb sucking toddler but you can not argue it’s effectiveness. For this reason I use this 30% formula on myself when mosquito’s and tick’s are in abundance. For the absolute best protection I am a huge fan of Permethrin.

SAWYER PERMETHRIN INSECT REPELLANT, 24 OZ.

SAWYER PERMETHRIN INSECT REPELLANT, 24 OZ.

I’ve used this in jungles in South America and Asia, and obviously in the White Mountains. It’s 100% safe when used correctly. This is NOT FOR SKIN! It is meant to treat clothing, gear, footwear, etc. Once it dries there is zero chance of this “leeching” into your skin. I use it on my hiking shoes and pants, and Alex’s hiking shoes’s and pants. I also treated our kid carrier so when I set it down on the ground he has protection.

For information on the safeness of this product on kids (and us) check out this page from the University of Rhode Island. You can pick it up at your local Eastern Mountain Sports or online here. More information on this, and some other tips from the CDC can be found here.

Finally, when you find an embedded tick (and chances are you will at some point), know how to remove it. Improperly removing it can increase risk of infection. All you need is a pair of tweezers. Grasp as close to your skin as possible and pull straight out by slowly increasing pressure.

tweezers grasping a tick close to the skin's surfacetweezers pulling a tick away from the skin in an upward motion

Mistakes like twisting/jerking can cause some of the tick to stay in the skin. If one or both of the “pinchers” stay in do not try to dig them out. Your, or your child’s, body will naturally push them out over a few days but monitor the bite site for any signs of infection, which would require a trip to see the Doc. I would think it would go without saying but do not use a match or lighter on an embedded tick. This can cause it to regurgitate it’s meal, greatly increasing transmission and infection. Once it’s removed wash with soap and water and go back outside to play!

I hope this information helps! While Lyme disease is no joke it shouldn’t keep us from hiking and climbing in areas where ticks may be prevalent. It takes time for a tick to find a spot to embed, and much more time to transmit the disease. Twice daily checks reduces the risk of catching Lyme disease to around the odds of winning PowerBall!

Comment below if you have any suggestions or thoughts on the topic! We’d love to hear from you!

 

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I feel somewhat ashamed that it has taken us two years to take Alex on his first camping trip but I’m sure we will make up for it with many starry nights down the road. Especially with how much he enjoyed it! Yesterday we visited with my grandparents at their summer “camp” at the scenic Homestead By The River Family Campground in Biddeford, Maine. Only an hour and a half drive from home we figured this one night stay would be a good test run. After stopping by the North Conway EMS to rent a family sized tent and some extra sleeping pads we were off.

Subaru loaded

Subaru loaded

This campground is primarily an RV campground with a few tent sites down by the Saco River. We got a nice site next to my visiting cousin and his girlfriend, who were the only other tenters at the campground. A fire ring, picnic table, plenty of privacy, and bathrooms with free showers made this a pretty good deal for $25 plus tax. I had rented the EMS Big Easy 6 tent from the North Conway EMS store. While this tent comes in a 4 person version as well I figured the 6 person version would give us plenty of elbow room for sleeping with a 2 year old who loves to roll in his sleep and kick you in the lower back.

Our accommodation, the EMS Big Easy 6

Our accommodation, the EMS Big Easy 6

Set up was very straight forward, but like all EMS tents the instructions are sewn onto the pole sleeve just in case. Michelle entertained Alex while I spent about 10 minutes putting the tent up. With over ninety square feet of storage and height to stand up straight we were pretty happy with our choice.

Ready for the small chance of rain in the forecast

Ready for the small chance of rain in the forecast

After tossing in some EMS Trail Crash Pads I was testing and our sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets we walked up the small hill to my grandparents site, which is conveniently right next to the sheep/llama pen. This campground is a full working farm with quite a bit of livestock, horses, geese, etc. and Alex, though timid at first, quickly made best friends with the black llama and the white goat.

Checking out the Lhama

Checking out the Lhama

Alex's new friend

Alex’s new friend

Farmboy

Farmboy

Visit from the sheep

Visit from the goat

After dinner with the grandparents we returned to our site for some campfire time. With temps forecast down to the mid-forties we wanted to be sure Alex slept warm so taking a tip from the adventure blogger CragMama we brought along his North Face Infant Snuggler Suit. We picked this up last winter and I wrote a brief review of it here.

Comfy cozy around the fire

Comfy cozy around the fire

Zipped up in this down suit he was snug as a bug as we chatted around the fire late until the night. He dozed off around 9:30 and we laid him on of sleeping pad and blanket while we continued a bit more late night revelry. When we turned in at 11 he was still sound asleep, and would sleep like an angel until morning (better than at home I must say)! This is an excellent way to keep an infant/toddler warm and comfortable when camping in cooler temps, thanks for the great tip CragMama!

The EMS Trail Crash Pads we were using worked great. They inflated quickly and provided good cushion and insulation from the chilly October ground. While I love my more expensive Thermarest model these are a great value in a self-inflating pads. BTW, not many people know this, but “self-inflating” means YOU inflate it manually… your-“self”. Took me 10 years of working in outdoor retail to figure that one out.

The next morning we spent more time with the animals. Alex was confident feeding grass to both the llama and the goat.

Feeding time

Feeding time

After breakfast we stole one more quiet moment before saying our goodbyes and heading home.

Quiet moment with daddy before leaving

Quiet moment with daddy before leaving

First camping trip in the bag, and we are so stoked that Alex loved it. I’m not sure if we’ll squeeze another in before winter, but we are planning on heading to one of our favorite outdoor playgrounds, Acadia National Park, next Spring. Hopefully by then the government shutdown is over and the park will be open!

What was the youngest you or your kids ever camped? Any tips to share on how to help it go smoothly?

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