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Danger Rangers teach prevention and safety

Sunday, July 10, 2005

NEW YORK -- There are many interesting critters and species of plant life for young campers to see on a walk through the woods and the bulk of them are harmless. There are, however, a few things children -- and their grown-up guides -- should steer clear of.

"Insect bites, stings and contracting poison ivy are very common for children, especially during the spring and summer months. While most insect bites only result in mild local reactions, they can cause more serious conditions, such as anaphylactic reactions and Lyme disease, says Michael Moore, co-founder and CEO of Educational Adventures, the company that created animated the Danger Rangers.

The main message behind the Rangers is that prevention and safety are a great pair.

* Ticks like warm, dark places. Teach children to check their bodies regularly, especially the back of the knee, thighs, belly button, armpit, ears, hair and back of the neck. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers, drop it in a plastic bag and throw it away.

* Mosquitoes bite mostly at dawn and dusk. Avoid wearing perfumes, colognes, fragrant hair sprays, lotions and soaps, all of which make you more attractive to mosquitos.

* Insect repellents containing DEET are more effective than botanical repellents, but parents should be in charge of application. DEET repellents should be avoided for open wounds and cuts on skin. For maximum protection, wear permethrin-treated clothing. This is insect repellent designed for application to clothing only and should be worn in conjunction with a topical insect repellent.

* Wear light-colored clothing and tuck pant legs into socks and shirts into pants so that skin is not exposed to hazardous plants or ticks or insects.

* When hiking, avoid areas of dense foliage and stay in the center of the trail.

* Poison ivy, western poison oak, and poison sumac contain poisonous sap in their roots, stems, leaves and fruit. Make sure your child knows what the plant looks like. The compound leaves of poison ivy consist of three, green pointed leaflets; the middle leaflet has a much longer stalk than the ones on each side and the leaflet edges can be smooth or toothed but are rarely lobed.

* Sap may be deposited on the skin by direct contact with poison ivy, oak and sumac or by contact with contaminated objects, such as shoes, clothing, tools and animals. If you come in contact with poison ivy, immediately rinse the area with water. If you are away from a sink, water from a stream, lake or garden hose will do.

* The first symptom of poison ivy is a severe itching of the skin followed by a red inflammation and blistering. If poisoning develops, the blisters and red, itching skin may be treated with a number of anti-itch dressings.

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