As an outdoor education professional, you are outdoors working with students almost every day of the year. It’s important to communicate to students that tick-borne diseases are serious and can lead to significant and potentially life-long health problems, but at the same time, you don’t want to scare children so that they become terrified of being outdoors!
The number one communication that all teachers and naturalists need to convey to students is: TICK CHECK EVERY DAY. The reason is this: even if a tick is embedded in a child’s body, if it is removed less than 24 hours after the tick latches on, it is less likely to transfer the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and other associated infections.
Here’s the full run-down of tick-bite prevention with click-through details.
- Reducing the chance of getting bitten
- Daily tick-check
- What to do if you find a tick on a child
- Correct communication with parents of a child who has been bitten
1. Reducing the chance of getting bitten
- Wear light-colored clothing
- Wear long-sleeves and pants; tuck your pants into your socks
- Stay on the middle of the trail
- Don’t brush against long grasses and shrubs
- Treat clothes with tick-repellent
2. Daily Tick-check
- Checking your body for ticks should be a DAILY habit. You need to pay particular attention to the following parts: armpits, waistline/belt area, and groin.
- Ticks crawl UP, so check your clothes for ticks now and then while you are outdoors
- Take a shower every day and feel for bumps or unusual things
3. What do to if you find a tick on a child
- Stay calm. If you are calm, the child will be calm
- Reassure the child that s/he is safe and that you will take care of removing the tick
- Tell them that it will NOT hurt to pull the tick off
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible using whichever tool is most effective for your grip and the size of the tick ((pointy-nose tweezer, tick nipper, tick-key))
- Pull the tick very gently but firmly STRAIGHT out of the skin. The tick will cling hard as it has a barbed mouth part. Do not twist or yank at the tick or you risk leaving the mouthparts in the skin
- Once the tick is removed, swab the child’s skin with antiseptic
- Wash your hands
- SAVE the tick. Put it in a plastic baggie or vial. If it is alive, place a moist cotton swab in with it.
- Be sure to include information regarding Lyme disease symptoms, tick-bite documentation and tick-testing information with the tick.
- Send home the tick, tick-bite documentation and tick-testing information to the parents so they know what to look for and what to do if child develops symptoms
- Tell the child that the chances of them getting sick are very slight as the tick probably only bit them in the last few hours.
- If you suspect that the tick has been on the child’s body for more than 24 hours, you should have your administrator ensure that the child’s teacher will speak to the parent on the child’s return home.
4. Correct communication with parents of a child who has been bitten
It’s imperative that communication with parents be conducted and that the tick is sent home with the child and includes paperwork with instructions on symptoms, testing health ramification for parents.
Paperwork should document (sample forms below):
- Where/when the child was bitten
- If the entire tick was removed from the child’s body
- How long the tick was on the child’s body (if known)
- What symptoms to look for
- How to get the tick tested for Lyme and why it’s important to do so
- Tell them to inform their child’s pediatrician that the child was bitten
- Tell them to reach out to Bay Area Lyme if they need help, support, or have questions
Tick-bite Prevention Materials for Parents and Teachers
Click here for a document in English and Spanish that can be downloaded to document a tick-bite for parents.
We offer a comprehensive pre-outdoor education curriculum for class teachers who are planning to bring students to your outdoor school or outdoor program. You may wish to use some of these materials during outdoor education, or provide student materials during downtime before the evening meal to reinforce student learning.
These materials may be copied and used at your outdoor school:
Parts of a tick worksheet (.pdf)
Brochure template (.pdf, two pages)
Tick survey and graphing worksheet (.pdf, two pages)
What do you know about ticks? Word search (.pdf, two pages)
Crossword puzzle (.pdf, two pages)
For questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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