June 18, 2018

Ticks Aren’t the Problem

by Gavin Finch

People are either terrified of ticks or oblivious to them. The other day, a close friend told me, “Ticks are a guaranteed way to ruin an otherwise wonderful outing. Those things ruin the whole mood.” And at an outdoor youth camp I worked at, many of the kids had never heard of ticks or how to look for them. Even worse, the camp directors never told the kids, and many of the other counsellors never told them either.

Each year, people die or have their lives drastically changed because of unnoticed tick bites. Now that it’s summer, ticks are active and hungry, and there are people camping unaware of the danger ticks pose.

But ticks aren’t the problem. Lack of information is. Thankfully, I’m writing to the people who can make the most difference. By talking to park guests about ticks this summer, you can help protect the health and safety of people who enjoy the outdoors.

For the rest of the article, I’ll list and explain some ways you can communicate with your guests and prepare your park to keep them healthy. I’ll use the acronym R.I.S.K.I. to help you remember these tips.

 

Remind Them
Make sure your guests remember that ticks exist and the danger they pose.

There are many ways to remind guests. Talk to them when they check-in, put up posters and brochures/pamphlets, and chat with them throughout the park.

If you’re using Sunrise, you have several tools for sending guests information. Use them to communicate. You can set up templates that display information about your park on Sunrise Reservations, create notifications that guests see when making reservations online, customize reservation confirmation emails, or use our new SMS feature to text guests in your park.

You can use any of these features to communicate tick information to guests. To learn how to use these features, visit our User Guide and type “notification” in the search bar.

 

Inform
If your guests don’t already know about ticks, you need to inform them. Give them a quick overview of the dangers ticks pose to humans, how to check for them, and how to remove them. You can also direct them to the Center for Disease Control Tick  links I’m including at the end of this article. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has extensive information on ticks and tick removal, so your guests can learn everything they need to know from the CDC website.

If you want to give them a brief overview, here are some important points to mention:

  • How active ticks are during the summer
  • Any ticks you’ve noticed in the area/at your park
  • How to check for ticks
  • How to remove them and treat bites

Guests might not want to think about ticks when they’re going camping, but ticks are a reality. Still, make sure to remind guests that they don’t need to be afraid. As long as they remove ticks promptly, they don’t need to worry about getting sick.

 

Separate Science from Fiction
Home remedies for ticks have caused a lot of damage, because many of them don’t work or give a tick time to remove itself. Removing a tick the wrong way can increase the chance of infection and/or disease transmission. For instance, pulling the tick off without tweezers can leave its head in the skin. The head can keep feeding and transmitting disease. That’s not what anyone wants.

So make sure guests know how to properly remove an attached tick. Don’t tell them to use gasoline, vinegar, garlic, mouthwash, or Vaseline, and don’t tell them to burn the tick off. The only tick-removal method recommended by the CDC is to use tweezers.

Again, the links below explain all of this information, so share these links with your guests and encourage them to read or skim the content. The more your guests know, the safer and healthier they’ll be in the woods.

 

Keep First-Aid Kits in Your Park
Tweezers are the safest way to remove ticks, and medical alcohol is the safest way to clean a tick bite. Not everyone carries tweezers and alcohol regularly, but you can.

Keep first-aid kits with tweezers and anti-septic cleaner in your office and at various sites in your park. Make sure guests can access at least one 24/7 and mark these locations on your map. Finally, remind guests that they can use these materials to remove ticks if they need to.

If you remind and warn guests about ticks, you can prevent sickness and death, especially in children and the elderly. That’s worth some extra communication and effort.

 

Important Links
CDC Tick Geographic Distribution

CDC Tick-Borne Diseases and Removal Overview

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