The end of school marks the beginning of summer camp for many Florida children.  However, it also means sunburn, heat and pesky mosquitoes.  As you ready your young camper for a season of fun, be sure to pack all the necessities, and don’t forget mosquito repellent.

According to the weather experts, the mild winter we experienced may translate to a robust mosquito season this summer, so we must be proactive and ensure that our little ones are safe and protected.  Here’s a discussion of four things to consider before you send your child off to summer camp.

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  1. Apply repellent in the morning

Many camps have strict rules about repellent, and may not allow its use on campus.  Ready your child for the day with sunscreen first, then apply repellent over the sunscreen and not under clothing.  Avoid combination sunscreen/repellent products.  Most repellents will last about six to seven hours, so there may not be a need to reapply if they’re not staying a full day, but if they’re outdoors for much of the day, sunscreen will have to be reapplied more often.

It is not advisable to allow your child to spray him- or herself.  Use lotions instead of sprays, but if a spray is all you have, spray it on outdoors and in your hand.  Then apply it to your child’s skin, avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth areas, as well as hands.  Of note, higher concentrations of DEET do not mean the product is stronger, rather it simply indicates the product will last longer.

  1. Use clothing as a barrier

Choose light colored, baggy clothing with a tight weave such as sun-protective rash guards and UPF shirts.  You can spray your child’s clothing with repellent or purchase already treated clothing, which is deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.  These materials will keep mosquitoes from penetrating the fibers to reach the skin.  Also, forgo sandals or flip-flops and opt for breathable canvas high-tops with long socks that cover feet and ankles—a favorite place for bites.

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  1. Avoid standing water

Encourage kids to stay away from puddles (salty or freshwater), ponds, and shady, still, and moist areas.  Outdoor breezes naturally keep mosquitoes away when at play and will keep them cool so mosquitoes won’t be attracted to their body heat.

  1. Treat bites to prevent infection

Few children can resist scratching skin raw where they’ve had mosquito bites.  In a camp setting, this can prove dangerous as staph can be introduced to the skin through the small cuts made from dirty fingernails.  In a camp setting, counselors may not be allowed to apply any kind of anti-itch creams.  Tell your child to ask for ice to apply to their bite to bide the time until they get home and you can reach for a steroid cream.

A little bit of prevention and preparation will keep children safe from mosquitoes and ensure they are happy campers.

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Above content provided by Miami-Dade County.