Growing up, I remember the utter joy I experienced jumping in piles of leaves. I loved the “crunch, crunch” sound, the softness of the leaves themselves, and just the idea of jumping INTO something. Now, I know leaf jumping is a ritual of Fall and I hate to put a damper on it, but there are some major downsides into letting your kids jump into piles of leaves:
TicksThink it's too cold for ticks? Think again! Through October into mid-November, ticks are still alive and well. In fact, a few years ago, after a particularly cold October, Junior came home from a camping trip with a large tick attached under his arm. That large pile you just raked up could be harboring these blood-suckers, especially the disease-carrying deer ticks.
Ticks LOVE leaf piles!
Animal PoopI live in an area with a lot of critters, including deer. While I love the beauty of these animals, I am not fond of their poop, which they do everywhere including amongst the leaves. And I won't even get started on the prospect of finding dog poop in a pile! Disgusting!
Sticks And StonesKids tend to jump into leaf piles with abandon. A friend's kid recently jumped into a bunch of leaves and narrowly missed an eye injury.
Unless you're going to inspect EVERY INCH of a leaf pile, you're risking your children encountering the above. Still, if you're hell-bent on allowing your child to jump into one, take these precautions:
- Make sure your child is protected by covering up as much skin as possible. That means tucking pants into socks and making sure they're wearing long-sleeves.
- Use a bug-repellant spray, even over their clothes, to prevent ticks.
- Check them as soon as they get out of the leaf pile to make sure they're clean.
- Before bedtime, check them for ticks. Remember that these insects love warm, dark places like the back of knees and underarms.
Fall has many rituals: pumpkin and apple picking, decorating for Halloween, drinking apple cider. For safety's sake, you may want to consider giving up leaf jumping.
For more on ticks, click here ( http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/protect_your_yard). And for instructions on how to remove a tick, click here (http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/how-to-remove-a-tick-overview).