Kids in Colorado

Ticks + Summer Camp: What Parents Should Know

There’s been a lot of news about the tick population in Colorado this year after the wet winter. The American dog tick, the spotted dog tick and the Rocky Mountain tick are the three types of ticks in Colorado that may carry harmful diseases. Here’s are some tips for tick safety when you send your kids to camp this summer:

Discuss tick safety with your child’s camp counselors.

Ask about the camp’s policies for wearing tick-repellant, performing tick checks and procedures if a child is discovered to have a tick bite.

Dress your kids in protective clothing.

For camps that are out in the woods, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed sun hats can prevent any ticks that your child encounters from attaching to the skin. Light colored clothing will keep them cool while making it easier to spot ticks as well. And because most ticks are picked up from low vegetation, consider tucking pants into socks for extra protection.

Use a tick repellant.

Using the insecticide permethrin to treat your clothing can reduce the frequency of tick bites by 3x. You can do it yourself by spraying or soaking your clothes, and treated clothes should last for 5 – 6 washes before needing to be treated again. Alternately, you can purchase permethrin-treated clothing from retailers like REI.

Do a tick check each day after camp.

It takes several hours for a tick to start feeding, so performing a thorough tick check each day can prevent bites. Remember that ticks can be as small as a poppy seed (!) and be sure to check joints (elbows, armpits, etc) and areas covered with hair extra carefully since ticks prefer warm, dark places. Putting clothes in the dryer on high heat for 20-30 minutes will kill any ticks that may have hitched a ride into your home.