First and foremost, DEET is strong stuff. This isn’t the little spray bottle you find at a drugstore cash register; it’s serious repellent for serious outdoorsmen. For this reason, it’s smart to thoroughly read and follow all the directions and precautions on the label of your repellent.

You’ll also want to be careful when applying DEET-based repellents. You’ll only need to use enough repellent to cover your exposed skin or clothing. Take care not to apply it on any cuts or wounds, or irritated skin. Also, if you’re using DEET sprays or aerosols, do not spray them in enclosed areas. If you want to apply it to your face, spray the repellent on your hands first and then rub it on your face, ears, and neck. Never spray it directly onto your face. You never want to use DEET repellents under your clothes, either.

When you’re done applying the repellent, be sure to wash your hands. Human beings touch their faces quite a lot throughout the day, and it’s easy to forget you have DEET on your fingers when you go to scratch your eye or bite your nails. At the end of the day, be sure to take a shower to remove the repellent from your body, and also be sure to wash any treated clothing before you wear it again.

Children can be more easily affected by DEET than adults, so be sure to never allow them to apply DEET repellents themselves. Also, do not apply it to a child’s hands, or anywhere near their eyes or mouth.

Besides applying DEET-based repellents, you can take some extra measures to protect yourself from bugs. Keep in mind that mosquitoes are more active in the morning and in the evening, and when temperatures are cooler. Also, they don’t handle breezes too well, so if you need to take breaks or make camp, try to do so in more open, windy areas, if possible. Finally, avoid wearing dark colored clothing or scented products like hairspray or perfume, as these are bug-attracting factors.

Because they’re so strong, you’ll want to be sure to read the instructions of your DEET repellent thoroughly and apply it carefully. Repellents with DEET as an active ingredient are quite effective at keeping bugs at bay. Such a repellent (Repel Sportsmen Max 40% DEET) was a blessing to me during my backpacking trip along the Bruce Peninsula a few summers ago when the biting flies were in full gear, and I know it can help you, too.

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