How to Safely Remove a Tick and Other Tick Safety Tips

how to safely remove a tick
*Please note that I am not a doctor. I’m just summarizing lots of information here for you. Seek medical attention for any concern.*

Do you know how to safely remove a tick?

Light a match, blow it out, and then put the end of the match on the tick?

Wrong!

Put petroleum jelly on the tick, let it suffocate, then it will fall off?

Also wrong.

I will walk you through step by step on how to safely remove a tick, and give you some tips to prevent a tick bite in the first place.

Check Hair and Body

First, when camping or adventuring, before you go to bed, you want to check all over your body, your kids’ bodies, and your dogs’ bodies for ticks. I specifically call out checking your hair, because it is easier for ticks to hide themselves in your hair. However, don’t forget to check your armpits, belly button (I know gross), and between your toes. When ticks bite, they release a pain killer so the host animal doesn’t feel them latch on. So it’s extra important to check for ticks, since you can’t rely on just feeling where it might be.

How to Safely Remove a Tick

Ok so you spot a tick, now what? Here are the steps to safely remove a tick according to WebMd:

  1. Take an alcohol swab to clean the area.  
  2. Then use pointy tweezers to get as much of the tick as possible and pull it out.
  3. Use another alcohol swab to re-clean the area.
  4. Dispose of the tick or send it in for testing (more on this below).

That’s it!

A few other things to mention:

  • The head might get stuck. If the head is stuck, try getting it out with a sterile needle or call your doctor.
  • Do not squish the tick, because you could get infected with their diseases by doing this.
  • To dispose of the tick, make sure it is dead by drowning it in alcohol or soapy water, put it in between a piece of tape or place it in a plastic bag.

The most important thing is to get the tick off your body as soon as possible. This why you don’t want to try some popular methods like suffocating it with petroleum jelly or nail polish.

Also, their secretions that cause you to get sick are stored in the back of their bodies. Using the well-known, but misinformed, matchstick method where you light a match, blow it out, then burn the tick with it, could cause the tick to release their secretions into your skin even if they haven’t already.

Tick Borne Diseases and Symptoms

Most ticks will not cause you any harm. But if you want to be sure, you can get your tick tested for any possible diseases. If it does come back positive for carrying a disease then it would be wise to see a doctor or watch for symptoms. However, many people will get sick before testing comes back. If that happens, please see a doctor right when symptoms appear.

There are nearly 900 species of ticks carrying a whole bunch of diseases, however, only a few species are known to carry diseases in humans. Check out this map from the CDC to see the ticks that might be found in your area and the diseases they carry.

In addition to lots of tick species, there are over a dozen tick diseases that can be contracted by humans. The most known and problematic diseases are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis , and tick-induced paralysis.  Look for these symptoms, and seek medical attention if any symptoms arise:

  • Fever/chills
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Neck stiffness
  • Rash at the site of the bite
  • Whole body rash
  • Skin ulcer
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Paralysis (typically subsides within 24 hours of the tick being off the body.)

Tick Prevention

Thankfully, there are ways to prevent tick bites. First, it’s important to have some education around ticks. They can bite you year round, but they are most common in the summer months and most common in humid areas. However Lyme disease has been found in every state in the US. So even us Coloradans have to be aware of them.

Ticks wait on bushes and wooded areas for a host to attach itself to. They only crawl and do not fly or jump. So typically they are crawling on the ground and then up your leg. Come prepared for your hike, camping trip, or anything outside where you might encounter one. To prevent a tick bite you can:

  • Wear protective clothing like pants, long sleeves, and high socks to cover your body.
  • Spray yourself with DEET bug spray. This only repels ticks from your skin.
  •  Treat your clothing with permethrin. This actually repels and kills ticks when they come in contact with it.
  • DEET and permethrin are considered safe for humans to use. However, here is a list of natural tick prevention options including essential oils, eating lots of garlic, and apple cider vinegar to name a few.

Ticks are gross and can be dangerous. I hope you don’t encounter one, but if you do, I hope this helps prepare you for the situation.

Do you have any other tick safety or prevention tips?

No Bake, Grain Free Energy Balls

No bake grain free energy balls
Grain free energy balls

These no bake, grain free energy balls make a great breakfast, snack or dessert. The protein and fat will fuel you through any hike, bike ride, or other at-length exercise. Although, unless you can keep them cool, I wouldn’t recommend bringing them with you. Since they are peanut butter based, they are best kept cool to keep their shape. To bring them camping, I’d recommend freezing them beforehand, then storing them in the cooler. They are sure to be a hit with everyone!

Simple Ingredients

Look at the ingredient list for most protein bars and granola bars on the market. There is a long list of ingredients and many ingredients that don’t sound quite like food. I love that with these no bake, grain free energy balls you know exactly what you are eating which is so reassuring as a mom. And they are tasty so its a win win.

Kid Approved!

My kids love these as “cookies” too. They asked if we could make them together but didn’t understand why they didn’t need to be put in the oven. Anything with peanut butter and chocolate chips is likely to be a hit in our house. Quite a few chocolate chips also went missing in the process.

Lots of Variations

There are tons of recipes out there for any type of no bake energy balls. In the past, I’ve made them with oatmeal, but I wanted to try a grain free version. So I looked at a bunch of recipes and just came up with this one. With that in mind, you can amend this recipe with anything you think might add to it or of course take away anything you don’t like. Some variations could include raisins, protein powder, different types of nut butters like almond or macadamia nut or even M&M’s.

No Bake, Grain Free, Energy Balls

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Servings 12 small energy balls

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips I prefer dark chocolate chips, but you could use any type.
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Combine all the coconut flakes, flax seeds, and chocolate chips into a bowl and mix.

  2. Combine the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla into a large bowl.

  3. Mix the the dry and wet ingredients together.

  4. Cool for at least 30 minutes.

  5. Using your hands, round mixture into one inch balls.

  6. Store in the refrigerator.

Let me know what you think or what you would change!

Buffalo Creek Campground and Biking in Pike National Forest

Buffalo Creek Campground and biking
Buffalo Creek Campground is located near Pine, CO in Pike National Forest and is at 7,400 feet elevation.

Welcome to the Buffalo Creek Campground and biking review! Originally we had planned to camp at Turquoise Lake, but after calling the campsite, we learned that they still had plenty of snow on the ground, the lake was still covered with sheets of ice, and parts that weren’t covered in snow were extremely muddy. So we decided to look for options at lower elevation and closer to home. Before kids, we used to camp and bike at Buffalo Creek. We decided to risk it and look for dispersed camping sites and walk-up sites.

Walk-up Campsite

After driving through all the dispersed camping sites, we didn’t find anything. With the kids and pop-up in tow, we started to think we were going to have to turn around. But then, the Buffalo Creek Campground had spots available!

I wouldn’t recommend this method as it usually doesn’t work out, and it’s uncertain if you will get a spot or not. We would have been really disappointed if all that packing and prep was for nothing.

Buffalo Creek Campground Info

Buffalo Creek Campground and biking
Buffalo Creek Campground view

We felt really lucky to get our spot, and talked about how this is a campground we would have booked, because the spots offer enough distance and privacy, there are vaulted toilets available, and there is good biking nearby. It’s also always nice to be so close to the Denver area in case we need to bail on the trip altogether due to weather or sickness or any other unforeseen circumstance with the kids. Here is a little campsite info:

  • No electric hook-ups
  • No water-come prepared!
  • Vaulted toilets
  • Picnic tables
  • No dump station
  • Fire rings-make sure to check the fire regulations
  • Nearby trails for hiking and biking
  • Located about an hour and a half from Denver in Pine, CO. See directions here.
  • $22 per overnight site
  • 38 total sites with 24 reserve-able and 14 walk-ups
  • This is bear country. Lock up all your food in your car!

The campground has two loops, kind of like a figure 8. The kids spent most of their time riding their bikes around the circle of our site. We could see them the whole time which was nice. However, cars were constantly in and out presumably looking for open sites just like we did. When the kids weren’t riding their bikes they played in the hammock, played tag or played cards and board games.

Biking the Colorado and Green Mountain Trail

Buffalo Creek Campground and Biking
Green Mountain Trail at Buffalo Creek

The adults took turns with a guys’ bike ride and a ladies’ bike ride. Us ladies took the Buffalo Trailhead to the Green Mountain Trail. It’s a 3.5 mile trail shaped kind of like a horseshoe. Then it makes a loop by connecting on the Colorado Trail for a bit. So in total, I think we rode just under 7 miles. I won’t tell you how long we took, but I will say the guys had a plan to come searching for us. We like to stop and take pictures. Also, we are slower than most, and get to the side to let everyone pass us.

The trail is rated a blue as intermediate. Depending on which direction you go there is a pretty good portion of the ride as a climb followed by a decent and rolling hills. Pretty much all of Buffalo Creek has lots of exposed roots on the trail and some rocks to make it mildly technical.

Camping Cocktail

Buffalo Creek Campground and Biking
Camping cocktail: mudslide

Of course the ladies had a camping cocktail! We went with a mudslide since we were originally camping at a site that was going to be muddy. Then we just stuck with it, since it sounded good. Here’s the recipe we used:

You could use any variation of vodka, coffee liquor and Irish cream of course, but I highly recommend the Arrosta Coffee Liquor. This is a very sweet and very strong drink so you don’t need too much. It also makes a great dessert drink or nightcap.

Buffalo Creek Campground Highlights

To sum up, Buffalo Creek Campground makes a great camping spot for kids and adults. I like that it is lower elevation than Turquoise Lake for less intense weather and that is closer to town should we need to abort the trip. Additionally, any campground with a fire ring, picnic tables and bathrooms is ideal for camping with kids. A decent amount of space and privacy between sites is always a plus. I also loved that I could see my kids at all times as long as they stayed around the loop where our site was located. What do you look for in a campsite?

Happy camping!