The West Nile Virus, carried by infected mosquitoes that contracted it from infected birds, can cause our children to become very ill. While we do not want to scare our children, they should be made to understand that their health and safety is important and should be considered. Teaching your kids healthy outdoor safety habits can help them learn how to avoid the West Nile Virus.
- Explain to your child that you are trying to keep them safe. Tell them what West Nile Virus is, how it is spread and that it can make them sick.
- Since West Nile Virus is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes, make sure your child uses an insect repellent when playing outdoors. This will deter any possible bites.
- Teach your child to keep themselves safe by swatting any bugs that may land on their bodies.
- Mosquitoes which carry West Nile Virus bred in pools and puddles left sitting around the home and property. Make sure any collected water is dried quickly and not left to stand where your kids may be playing.
- Keep all kids dressed appropriately. Instruct them to keep arms and legs covered as much as possible when playing outdoors to ensure they stay safe from bites.
- Make sure there are no open doors or windows. Mosquitoes may come into the home through an open door, window or torn screen in your kids' room.
- Kids get curious. Instruct your child to keep a safe distance from any dead animals, especially dead birds. Dead birds may be a sign that the West Nile Virus is present in your area. Make sure your child knows to tell you if they see one, but not to touch it!
- Keep kids indoors during early morning and early evening hours, if possible. This is when mosquitoes are most active.
- Children should not be allowed to climb trees while West Nile Virus is in the area. Mosquitoes gather in trees throughout the day.
- Do not allow kids to drink from faucets where puddles have collected. Mosquitoes may be present even though not seen and can prove a safety issue even in a small puddle.
- Make sure your neighbors know how to spot West Nile Virus in their own homes, too.
- Call your local authorities and ask if they have measures in place to keep your neighborhood and kids safe from the virus. If so, ask what those measures are and when they enact them.
- If you have any kids in daycare or public facilities during the day, ask that they also practice good safety habits and measures to prevent the spread of the West Nile Virus.
These tips can help keep your children safe!