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?

Curt Gowdy State Park in Laramie County, Wyoming

Curt Gowdy State Park
Curt Gowdy State Park. View from Federal Bay Groupsite.

On the one and a half hour drive to Curt Gowdy State Park, it looked a little rainy, but nothing too serious. Then it down poured and the sky turned an eerie shade of green. I pictured a Wyoming tornado whisking us away before we arrived at the campsite. We were so close to booking a hotel room in Cheyenne when the clouds parted.

Ah ahh ahhh (cue birds chirping).

The sun’s rays were shooting up behind the mountains and mule deer were frolicking in the fields. I think this is pretty symbolic of Wyoming-extreme weather and extreme beauty. I wish I got picture of our drive in, but I’m not sure my camera phone could have captured that moment.

How to Get Here

Directions (via Google Maps)-From Denver take I-25N. Take Exit 8B to merge onto I-80 W toward Laramie. Take exit 357 for WY-222 toward Roundtop Rd. Follow WY-210 W (aka Happy Jack Rd) to Granite Springs Rd.

Curt Gowdy State Park and Campground

Curt Gowdy State Park has everything camping families could want. First, it’s a huge park on roughly 3,500 acres, three reservoirs, and 159 campsites (90 reserve-able sites and 69 first come first serve).

The state park is known for hiking, biking and horse back riding on it’s extensive trail system; water activities; archery; and the Hynds Lodge historical site. You can even get married at the lodge and rent an amphitheater. Neat!

Perhaps it’s not as noteworthy, but my kids were particularly excited about the playgrounds. I spotted three.

Playground at Curt Gowdy State Park

I can’t tell you what the best site is, but I think we had a great one at the Federal Bay Groupsite. The groupsite allows three “camping units” and can be shared with friends. We could easily share meals with our friends and chat by the fire after the kids went to bed. The kids loved it too, because they could ride their bikes in countless circles around the open area.

Curt Gowdy State Park
Tiny biker

Other amenities include pay showers and flush toilets (only at the visitors center) which was so nice since we did four nights here. There is a pop up store with ice, firewood and other miscellaneous items like ice cream and condiments. We made a few trips here, because why not get ice cream? Additionally, our site had tables and fire rings and drinking water could be found nearby.

Biking

We mainly came here to mountain bike. The extensive trail system has coded all the trails green, blue, black and red. Our oldest even did some of the easier sections of the Shoreline Trail. I will admit the trail got a little hairy for him, and he had a melt down mid-trail. However, the meltdown was not because the trail was too hard, but because I made him turnaround.

Curt Gowdy State Park
Shoreline Trail at Curt Gowdy State Park

We did family bike rides and the ladies even got a some time away, just us! I haven’t ridden my mountain bike in 1.5 years, and I actually put my helmet on backwards. It had been that long that I can’t even put on a helmet properly.

We went with the Stone Temple trail, a blue, because we thought it would be challenging, but not too challenging. It’s a pretty moderate 3.8 mile loop with an easyish climb followed by a downhill.

There were optional technical sections or “play areas” for the dare devils. You can easily skip over those sections if you are following the signs. A few times we accidentally went over a rock or two and would shout, “abort!” to alert the person behind not to follow. Perhaps I will get more daring if I go more. Or perhaps I won’t. Either way, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, because we have similar skill sets with nothing to prove.

Picture taking was high on the priority list.

Curt Gowdy State Park
View from Stone Temple Trail

The ladies also rode the Shoreline Trail in full. The Shoreline Trail is an easy green single-track with rolling hills. Again, picture taking was a key element to the ride.

Curt Gowdy State Park
Bike Pic

Given that it was fourth of July weekend, some of the trails were crowded. Our friends went to Hidden Falls, and recommended skipping it since there too many people. Naturally, I was a little bummed I missed the trail with a waterfall. We will just have to make a point to see this on the next trip.

Water sports

Camping, biking and hiking is fun and all, but anything on the water feeds my soul. I don’t know if it was growing up in Florida or spending time at Lake of the Ozarks as a kid, but I could spend all day, everyday on the water.

I kept saying the only thing I want to do is go paddle-boarding. A small storm came in, and I was sure it wasn’t going to happen this trip. But again the clouds parted and paddle boarding we went. Mountain SUP rents paddle boards and kayaks and sells shirts. See this place really has everything.

We did a one hour rental. I had a SUP with our 22 month old, and my husband with our 4 year old. Wyatt who is going through a crying phase, was pretty happy on the paddle board. I think he likes the water like me.

Somehow the kids ended up on my board and the four year old pushed us off. Thankfully, everyone had life jackets, and all was fine.

SUP Curt Gowdy State Park
Tiny SUPer

Our friends brought this kayak for impromptu family and solo kayaking.

I also saw people boating, jet skiing, water skiing, and fishing. Time on the water with my family makes me a happy person.

This place has plenty of variety and adventure for everyone. We will be back!




Turquoise Lake in Leadville, CO

Turquoise Lake
Turquoise Lake

I like fun facts. Do you? Here’s a couple:

  1. Leadville is the highest incorporated town in the United States at 10,152 feet.
  2. I thought Turquoise Lake got it’s name from the blue sparkling water, but it was actually named after the mineral, turquoise, which was found nearby in Leadville’s mining days. Cool, right?

I hope really hope one of these is a question on trivia night.

Baby Doe Campsite

Baby Doe Campground
Baby Doe Campground Photo: Recreation.gov

This was our second time camping at Turquoise Lake and our first camping trip of this summer. For both trips, we camped at the Baby Doe Campground. It’s nestled away from the shoreline in the thick pine trees. The campground is made up of two loops like a figure eight. For the first time, we let our older son ride his bike around one of the loops with the “big” kids. Naturally this was his favorite campsite and favorite trip of the summer.

On every camping trip, we like to scope out the best sites for future trips. Our first time here, we camped at site 14, and our second time we were in site 43. From my perspective, site 14 is the best spot. It’s a large area and nestled back into the tress for additional privacy. You are also a little closer the water and can see the lake from your site. Site 43 was just fine, but we weren’t as thrilled with it.

Turquoise Lake
Sparkly water

The adults love this spot too. I kept taking pictures of the water and remarking how the picture does not do it justice, and I think it is a pretty good picture. Looking at the sparkling water, you can’t help but feel happy here. Unless you are an 18 month old. Then you cry. About EVERYTHING. If anyone is reading this and went camping when we were there, I am truly sorry. Our youngest son is having a crying phase. We aren’t exactly sure when it started or when it will stop, but if he isn’t on my hip, he cries. Sometimes, I have to do things like go to the bathroom, eat, get dressed, LIVE. If I do any of these things, he cries. At one point my husband was making dinner and asked if I could cut up apples for the kids. Sure if you don’t mind the wailing while I am cutting up the apple, or can it wait?

Amenities

Anywho, back to the Baby Doe campground. Here are the amenities:

  • Firewood for sale on site
  • Walk-up sites available
  • Drinking water
  • Vault toilets
  • Self pay station
  • Tables
  • Campfire rings

Turquoise Lake Nature Trail

The one time Wyatt wasn’t crying AND I wasn’t holding him was when he was in the hiking backpack. We did this short hike on the Turquoise Lake Nature Trail which is a 1.2 mile out and back trail along the shoreline. This is an easy, kid-friendly route through the lodgepole pines with views of the lake the whole way. If you are looking for a longer more challenging route, this trail connects to the Turquoise Lake Trail for an additional 6.4 miles. Family hike, check!

Turquoise Lake

Lodgepole pines
Lodgepole pines at Turquoise Lake

The dense trees by the campsite guards against the wind. We were blissfully unaware how much cooler and windier it was when we got to the lake. I’m not sure if it’s always that windy or if it was just a windy weekend. I did see some people braving the choppy water on paddle boards, kayaks and canoes, but we stuck to hiking for this trip. There is a boat ramp available and you can even water ski here. I’d recommend wearing a wet suit. We were perfectly happy just taking in the view. In different weather, the water activities would have been a great addition.

Despite all the crying, we are still happy we went. Are we crazy? Maybe. The thing is, our son would have been crying at home anyways. I get it though. It’s not for everyone. It is challenging and not always the most fun. Our oldest son has energy to burn so we can’t just sit around waiting for the crying phase to pass. We also enjoy the time together away from the usual distractions of life. I really hope we will look back at this phase and remember the happy moments and the memories we made.