Tag: outdoors

Be Aware Of Ticks When Enjoying The Outdoors

When the weather warms, yards beckon, hiking trails look even more inviting and even a patch of grass can be a welcoming respite. Lots of fun can be had outside, but caution is needed. While this time of year is prime for outdoor frolicking, it’s also a time when tick populations explode. Ticks are small crawling bugs in the arachnid (spider) family. There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks in the world. The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation says there are at least 40 species of tick in Canada alone. The creature subsists on meals of blood from a host animal. Ticks can carry bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that can cause serious disease in humans and other animals, states LymeDisease.org.

Ticks feed and mate mostly on deer, but rodents, birds, lizards, and just about any other animal can be a host to these nondiscriminatory bugs. Animals carry the diseases, which are then passed through the tick to others. Disease-spreading ticks can be extremely hard to detect because of their diminutive size, especially when they are in the larva or nymph stages. Therefore, preventing tick bites remains the single-best way to stay ahead of Lyme disease and other illnesses. Understanding tick habitats and behavior can make it easier to avoid them.

Where To Find Ticks

Ticks will congregate anywhere the animals they feed upon live. Primarily they are located in wooded and grassy areas. Adults will climb up on tall grass waiting for an animal to pass by so they can climb aboard. Nymphs and larvae will live in layers of decomposing leaves under trees. Moisture is a friend to ticks, which are less active in sunny, dry areas. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says removing leaf litter, clearing tall grasses and brush and mowing the lawn frequently can help.

5 Ways To Create Tick-safe Zones At Home

• Stack wood neatly in a dry area.

• Keep playground equipment and entertaining spaces away from trees and yard edges.

• Discourage unwanted animals with fencing.

• Prevent tick migration into yards with a three-foot-wide barrier of gravel between lawns and wooded areas.

• If desired, employ acaricides (tick pesticides) to reduce the number of ticks in your yard.

On the go when enjoying the great outdoors, avoid tall grasses and stay on trails. Wear tall socks or pants during hikes to prevent ticks from latching on. A thorough inspection of the body is advisable each time people return indoors. Check hidden areas, such as behind the knees, under the arms and in other skin-fold areas, for ticks. Tick populations grow as the weather warms. Ensure spring and summer fun is not dampened by tick-related illness.
 
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Stop Making These 8 Common Grilling Mistakes

Cooking food over an open fire imparts all sorts of flavor. Grilling tends to be quicker, less messy and more convenient than cooking in the kitchen – particularly during the dog days of summer.

Outdoor grills are everywhere, including nearly every backyard across the country. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association says $1.47 billion in grill sales were made in 2016. That grills are so commonplace doesn’t mean that everyone grilling is employing the right techniques. Becoming the ultimate grillmaster involves understanding the subtleties of grilling and avoiding common mistakes so food can look and taste that much better.

1. Not prepping the food:

The French culinary term for preparing to cook is “mise en place.” This is especially important when grilling, as cooks must deal with faster cooking times than they would otherwise encounter when cooking meals in the stove.

2. Dirty grill:

Make sure the grill is cleaned before and after each use. Grease can quickly build up on a grill, leading to flare-ups that can cause foods to char. Frequent cleaning also helps grillmasters avoid a tiresome cleaning process at the start of the season.

3. Forgetting to preheat:

Preheating the grill ensures that foods will cook quickly and as evenly as possible. Otherwise, meats can lose moisture and even stick to cooler grates. Reader’s Digest suggests preheating to between 350 F and 450 F depending on the food.

4. Overreliance on lighter fluid:

The chemical taste of lighter fluid can transfer to foods even when the fluid is used sparingly. Consider using a chimney starter when grilling with charcoal. And avoid repeated pyrotechnics with fluid, or worse, gasoline.

5. Too much direct heat:

Food should not char on the outside before the inside has a chance to cook. A two-zone fire, according to food experts at Serious Eats, enables grillmasters to cook over high heat to sear and then move the food to a lower temperature to continue to cook evenly.

6. Playing with food:

Grilling does not require much intervention. Repeatedly flipping and squeezing meat and poultry can cause flavorful juices to leak out. Then you’re left with dried-out food. Resist any urges to prod and poke food. And minimize how many times you lift the grill cover to take a peek, as that can cause temperatures to fluctuate. Use a thermometer to determine when food is done. And don’t forget that meat will still cook a bit after it’s taken off the grill.

7. Improper seasoning:

Basting food with sugar-laden sauces and marinades too early can cause flare-ups and burning. Quick rubs can help lock in flavor, and then reserve the sauce for the last few minutes of grilling, says cookbook author Dave Martin.

8. Digging in too soon:

Give meats a chance to rest for between five and 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute through the food. This improves flavor and tenderness.

 
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Natural Ways to Reduce Lyme Disease Risk

The great outdoors can be a wonder to behold. Parks, nature preserves or even some time spent in the backyard can help men, women and children reconnect with nature.

While there is plenty to enjoy about the great outdoors, certain hazards are lurking. Ticks can be both a nuisance and a danger, potentially contributing to illnesses like Lyme disease. Recognizing the dangers of ticks and how to avoid tick bites can help people reduce their risk for contracting Lyme disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that, after hatching from eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive. It can take up to three years for a tick to complete its full life cycle, meaning it needs quite a few hosts to feed on.

Ticks are part of the arachnid family, but unlike spiders, ticks attach to the skin of an animal and suck its blood. Ticks can be found just about anywhere, but they tend to gravitate toward wooded areas or tall grasses, which offer them protection and good vantage points to find an animal host. Dog owners have no doubt encountered ticks in their lifetimes, as ticks are routine problems for dogs that are not properly protected. But ticks also prey on humans.

Ticks are and their bites are relatively painless, which can make it difficult for people to detect when they have been bitten. Many tick bites are harmless and do not require treatment. However, if bitten by a tick that is carrying Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, people may need to take an antibiotic to prevent any lasting health effects. As a result, people should always visit a doctor when bitten by a tick.

Pesticide repellants are some of the more effective and well-known methods to prevent tick bites and subsequent side effects. Many repellants can be used without negative side effects, but those who prefer to go a more natural route can take the following precautionary measures.

· Watch habitats. Steer clear of grassy, wooded and brushy areas. Ticks also prefer humid conditions.

· Stick to trails. Stay on trails when hiking or walking to avoid brushing up against areas where ticks may be hiding out.

· Wear proper clothing. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks that may have made their way onto a person. Tuck pants into socks, as ticks tend to climb onto hosts from the ground up. Bare ankles provide easy access.

· Protect hair and heads. Wear a hat and/or keep long hair contained so that it isn’t an attractive hiding spot for ticks.

· Shower immediately. After coming in from areas known for ticks, shower and launder clothing immediately. While showering, do a spot inspection looking for ticks on your body. Remember to look in hidden areas like under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, on the back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs, and around the waist.

· Clean up the yard. Make your yard less habitable to ticks by mowing the grass regularly and removing leaf litter and trim shrubs. Also, use wood chips or gravel to serve as a barrier between lawns and wooded areas of the property.

· Use natural oils. Ticks may not like the smell of garlic, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary, among others. Dotting your body with these infused oils may make you less attractive to ticks.


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How to Spend More Time Outdoors

Getting outside to enjoy the great outdoors can reduce the likelihood that a person will live a sedentary lifestyle that can negatively affect long-term health. But many adults are spending too much time indoors.

In its 2014 OUT is IN national survey, the National Recreation and Park Association found that 28 percent of adults in the United States do not spend time outside daily. The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the NPRA, asked 1,005 adults to share their opinions and behaviors regarding outdoor time. While 35 percent of respondents said work was getting in the way of their spending time outdoors, 39 percent said their computers, tablets, smartphones, and televisions were keeping them indoors.

Though it might be difficult to cut back on hours at the office, adults do have the capacity to cut back on their screen time. Using that newfound free time to get outdoors can pay dividends for years to come, as the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability notes that the potential consequences of living a sedentary lifestyle are severe. According to the NCHPAD, one study indicated a 40 percent decrease in cancer mortality among physically active persons compared to those who were inactive. Physical activity also helps to prevent insulin resistance, which is the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes.

While you don’t need to get outdoors to be physically active, men and women who find themselves bored by workouts at the gym or at home may be more likely to embrace physical activity if they can get their exercise outdoors. The following are three great ways to spend more time enjoying all that nature has to offer.

· Take up hiking. While some hiking trails are best left to seasoned hikers, many are built for hikers of all ages and abilities. Men and women who are overweight should not be intimidated by hiking, as even the simplest trails can help them get back on a healthy track. Men and women who incorporate hiking into their regular routines can lower their risk of heart disease and improve their blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The American Hiking Society also notes that research has shown that hiking can positively affect mood by helping to combat the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

· Ride a bike to work. Adults whose homes are in close proximity to their offices may want to try riding a bike to work instead of relying on their cars or mass transportation. Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness and increases muscle strength and flexibility. In addition, the stress-relieving properties of exercise can certainly be ascribed to cycling, which may even help adults prevent stressful episodes by relieving them of the burden of sitting in rush hour traffic.

· Grow your own foods. While the cost of fruits and vegetables may not be busting your monthly budget, growing your own fruits and vegetables is a cost-effective way to find more time for the great outdoors. In addition, a study from researchers in the Netherlands suggested that gardening is better for fighting stress than reading indoors.

Nature awaits, and adults should know that some playtime in the great outdoors is not just for kids.


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