Tips to avoid ticks, mosquitos, summer woes

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County Health Department urges residents to take safety precautions

The Chester County Health Department recommends create a woodchip or mulch barrier between wooded areas and yards to reduce the risk of ticks.

The Chester County Health Department recommends create a woodchip or mulch barrier between wooded areas and yards to reduce the risk of ticks.

With summer in full swing, the Chester County Health Department wants to remind residents to take precautions inside and outside the home to avoid injuries and insect-borne diseases.

West Nile Virus

Dispose of open containers that may collect water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, etc.

Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers so that water will not collect.

Keep your property clear of old tires.

Clean roof gutters, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains.

Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

Aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools when not in use.

For stagnant pools of water that cannot be removed or drained, homeowners can buy Bti products such as mosquito dunks at lawn and garden supply stores. This naturally occurring bacterial product kills mosquito larvae but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.

Lyme disease

Precautions against this tick-born bacterial infection should be taken in high risk areas such as damp, grassy, or wooded regions or when outside for an extended period of time while doing yard work, gardening, hiking, fishing, etc. In 2012, Chester County had an estimated 607 confirmed cases of Lyme disease.

Wear clothing that covers the skin and tuck loose pants into socks.

Wear light-colored clothing because ticks are easier to spot and brush off.

Apply an insect repellent with 20-30% DEET to exposed skin other than the face and/or apply permethrin to clothes. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instruction.

Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass and brush.

Use a high-heat dryer for one hour after washing clothes. This will kill most ticks that might have been attached to clothing.

Keep grass mowed and trees trimmed.

Remove brush or leaf piles accumulated around stone walls or wood piles.

Create a woodchip or mulch barrier between wooded areas and your yard. Place swing sets and other play equipment in mulched areas away from surrounding woodland edges.

Most importantly, check yourself, your family, and your pets frequently for ticks.

Heat

Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free beverages. Water is the best choice. It is important to drink fluids regardless of thirst, because you can become dehydrated without being thirsty.

Stay in air-conditioning as much as possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, go to the local mall, movie theater, or library.

Do not run fans in a room with the windows shut – you are only circulating hot air.

Check regularly on the elderly or homebound neighbors and relatives.

Eliminate strenuous activity such as running, biking and lawn care work when it is hot.

Fires/Burns

Place smoke detectors on every level of your home and in or near all bedrooms. Perform tests often and change the battery each time you change your clock in the spring and fall.

Plan a home fire drill and practice it with the entire family. Set up a safe meeting place outside of the house.

Keep matches, candles and lighters out of the reach of children.

Use safety covers on electrical outlets in homes with small children.

Lead

If you live in a home that was built before 1978, be sure to test windowsills and doorways for lead. Lead poisoning in young children can cause adverse health and developmental problems.

Drowning

If you have a pool, be sure to take proper precautions for the safety of your children and others in your neighborhood. Visit the county website – www.chesco.org – for more information on drowning prevention.

Falls

Make sure all porches, hallways and stairwells are well lit and free of clutter. 
Use a non-slip mat or install strips or decals in bathtubs and showers. Install grab bars in bath and shower stalls.

Use night-lights to prevent nighttime falls. 
Use child safety gates to prevent children from falling down stairs.

Poisonings

Lock all cabinets or drawers where medicines or hazardous chemicals are kept to keep them out of the reach of children.

Install a carbon monoxide detector near bedrooms in your home.  Have the poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) handy in case of emergency.

Eat small meals and eat more often.

If you must be outdoors, stay out of direct sunlight and seek shade; wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella to create your own shade.

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permits sweat to evaporate.

If you must be outdoors, use a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 or higher.

Never leave a child or animal unattended in a car, even with the windows down. Make a habit of looking inside the vehicle before walking away. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds parents that even cool temperatures in the 60s can cause the temperature to rise well above 110 degrees inside a car.

 

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