There are a number of things you can do to help avoid mosquito bites and control the number of mosquitoes in and around your home. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips:
- When possible, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.
- Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET to help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. (See information about DEET and child safety, below.)
- Spray clothes with repellent containing permethrin or DEET for extra protection. (Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.)
- Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning — or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors.
- Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
- At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
- Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water, such as old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, or bottles.
- Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
- Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.
- Check with local health authorities to see if there is an organized mosquito control program in your area. If no program exists, work with your local government officials to establish a program.
- Neighborhood clean-up days can be organized by civic or youth organizations to pick up containers from vacant lots and parks, and to encourage people to keep their yards free of standing water.
DEET and Child Safety
The American Academy of Pediatrics generally recommends maximum DEET concentrations of 30% for children and infants older than 2 months of age. Lower concentrations are not as long lasting, requiring more frequent reapplication.
Repellent products that do not contain DEET are not likely to offer the same degree of protection from mosquito bites as products containing DEET. Non-DEET repellents have not necessarily been as thoroughly studied as DEET and may not be safer for use on children. No serious illness has arisen from use of DEET when used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, according to the CDC. It is generally agreed that DEET should not be applied more than once a day.
CDC recommendations for DEET use in pregnant women do not differ from those for non-pregnant adults.
The CDC offers these additional tips when applying repellent product to children:
- When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid the child’s eyes and mouth and apply sparingly around the ears.
- Do not apply repellent to children’s hands. (Children tend to put their hands in their mouths.)
- Do not allow children under 10 years old to apply insect repellent to themselves; have an adult do it for them. Keep repellents out of reach of children.
- For children under 2 months of age, protect against mosquitoes by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
Protecting Your Pets
Dog owners can provide protection to their pets from mosquitoes and other biting pests by using repellent products approved for use on dogs. These products are commercially available from veterinarians and protect against mosquito bites, which can transmit WNV and heartworms; and ticks bites, which can transmit Lyme Disease. Safe use requires closely following label directions. These products are not approved for use on cats. Cat owners should keep their pets indoors to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.
Don’t use DEET on pets, as it can be dangerous if they ingest it.
Health officials recommend to protect your pets the same as you would protect yourself: remain indoors during the periods around dusk and dawn when the mosquitoes are most active, keep windows screened, use approved mosquito repellents (talk to your vet), and eliminate mosquito-supporting habitat around your home.
Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State of Michigan, American Academy of Pediatrics
This article was originally posted at http://www.weather.com/activities/homeandgarden/home/mosquito/articles/protection.html