Spill The Water
Contact: Florida Health
Spill the Water! posters
Spill the Water! book
Living in Florida, mosquitoes are seemingly part of our everyday life. However, many children don’t know mosquitoes not only make them itch, but can carry diseases like Zika and West Nile virus. Not all mosquitoes are the same. Different mosquitoes spread different diseases and are more likely to bite at certain times of the day. Some mosquito species bite during the day, such as those mosquitoes that can spread chikungunya, dengue and Zika viruses. Other species of mosquitoes bite most often at dawn and dusk, including those that can transmit West Nile virus.
To help prevent infection and to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, it is important for kids and parents to practice basic mosquito bite prevention: cover skin with long clothing and repellant and spill! sources of standing water. Fewer mosquito bites reduces everyone’s risk for illness and a smaller mosquito population means fewer bites. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one teaspoon or a bottle cap of water. Kids can help in the fight against mosquitoes when they Spill the Water! around their home and neighborhood. Read more tips below.
Stop Mosquitoes From Breeding
- Females breed by laying eggs in standing water, so at least once a week, empty, turn over or cover things that can hold water, such as toys, tires, buckets, birdbaths, car or boat covers, gutters, trash containers, etc.
- Store outside items in a covered area if they can hold standing water.
- Keep flower pots and saucers free of standing water and flush out water-retaining plants like bromeliads with a hose once a week.
Keep Mosquitoes Outside
- Make sure all your windows have screens and immediately repair any hole in your screens.
- Keep doors and windows shut and use air conditioning whenever possible.
Use EPA-Approved Insect Repellents On Children & Babies
- Teach your children to wear insect repellent when they are outdoors. Keep Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents ready to use at home and in your car. Always follow the product’s instructions.
- Don’t use repellant on babies younger than two months.
- Spray the repellent on your hands and then apply to your child’s face. Avoid their eyes, nose, mouth and hands, and avoid cuts or irritated skin.
- Dress babies and toddlers in clothing that covers arms and legs, and cover strollers, cribs or baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Don’t spray repellant on skin that will be covered by clothing.
- Repellant is applied after sunscreen.
Students in middle and high school can help prevent the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases by taking action in their community. Florida needs volunteers to find and clean up standing water where mosquitoes breed. Volunteer efforts that focus on reducing the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases can teach students about personal safety, everyday science and the importance of public health and how each member of a community can help improve health for all. Student clubs and groups can host and participate in clean-up efforts in neighborhoods, around schools or downtown areas. Spilling standing water and cleaning up debris and other trash where mosquitoes can lay eggs, along with repairing screens and doors for those who need assistance, means smaller numbers of mosquitoes and fewer bites. By donating their time, students can earn volunteer/community service hours. If you need help identifying high-risk areas in your community or coordinating a clean-up group, contact your county health department, local extension office or mosquito control office.
Thanks to you, Florida’s kids are super smart! However, many kids don’t know mosquitoes can make them sick. You can help protect kids by teaching them to cover their skin with long clothing and repellant and to Spill the Water! around their home. By spilling the water and preventing mosquitoes from breeding, kids can be super-heroes in their home, school and community.
The Spill the Water! Teacher Tool is filled with brain teasers you can use with our activity sheets. Activity sheets are available for pre-k, elementary, middle and high school levels and they align with established Florida Standards benchmarks. Download and print activity sheets for free and use them in your classroom along with the PSA to get students buzzing with excitement about mosquito bite prevention.
Don’t let Florida’s kids be a mosquito snack. Teach them to cover up and Spill the Water!