Safety Precautions – Ticks and Poison Oak


Ticks live amongst grasses in all hikes at this website. Ticks can carry diseases.
To avoid tick bites:

  • Stay on trails.
  • Cover the skin with clothing, particularly on feet and legs.
  • Do not wear scented lotions / perfume. Many insects are attracted to these.
  • Do not sit directly in grasses when taking breaks. Use a mat or blanket instead.
  • Brush clothing off and do a quick visual inspection of clothes and skin when convenient (at breaks or at the end of hikes). If they have not latched onto skin, they are easily brushed aside.
  • If hiking with a pet, inspect the pet carefully after the hike. Ticks can unlatch from a pet and latch onto a person at a later time.

If a tick does bite:

  • Remove it. The Lyme Disease Foundation Website provides advice about doing this.
  • Save it for identification. Not all ticks carry diseases that harm people. Identifying the type of tick is important for determining if medical treatment is necessary.
  • Visit your doctor, even if no sickness results. Many tick-borne illnesses take some time to reveal themselves. Your doctor will inspect the wound to be sure the entire tick was removed, preventing infection, as well.

Poison Oak

PoisonOakRed“Leaves of three, let it be…” was what we learned in Girl Scouts.

Poison Oak occurs at many of the hikes at this website. Poison oak exposure can lead to an itchy rash if the oil from the plant gets on skin. Digestion of leaves can lead to respiration problems as well as a rash.

Identify the plant with it’s three oak-like leaves that grow into a shrub or vine. 

The plant is green in the Spring, and leaves may become glossy with oil. By autumn, they turn red, then fall like other deciduous leaves, leaving the hard woody stems of the plant.


To avoid poison oak:

  • Stay on trails.
  • Learn to identify poison oak. (See photos above and description to right of photos.)
  • Cover the skin with clothing, then remove the clothing exposed to brush and promptly wash it when the hike is over. If oils get on clothing and clothing rubs against skin, a rash can occur, even several hours after initial contact with poison oak.
  • Be careful when taking breaks on thePoisonOakInFall sides of trails or off trail. Poison oak often resides near trees and spreads alarmingly quickly, so it is difficult for park service people to control.
  • As soon as the hike is over, wash skin that was exposed to brush (or surfaces of clothing exposed to it) thoroughly with a soap that removes oils from skin.

If you are exposed to poison oak:

  • Wash up! I’ve heard that bathing with Borax (a tough laundry detergent) will prevent the rash after being exposed to tons of poison oak. Seems any good oil-removing soap would work, but it needs to be used promptly.
  • Do not scratch the exposed area. Scratching can spread the rash and make the existing rash more itchy.
  • Cover the exposed area with taped-down gauze, paper towel, or a light, breathable fabric so that the rash remains contained and protected (from itching).
  • Visit a doctor if the itching becomes unbearable or you worry about proximity of the rash to special regions like mucous membranes. I would call my pediatrician if my baby developed a rash, just to verify that it was poison oak.
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