Welcome to Harrington's Big Backyard

OutDoor Safety


A few simple steps can help all to minimize the small risks involved in outdoor activity.

Poison Ivy

Seasonal View of Poison Ivy Poison Ivy in Summer


  1. In a cluster of poison ivy leaves, how many leaves are there?
  2. Is poison ivy always shiny?
  3. When is poison ivy red?
  4. Is poison ivy always found on the ground?
  5. (advanced) Who eats poison ivy?
  6. (advanced) Does poison ivy have thorns?
Poison Ivy Interactive Quiz Poison Ivy Quiz
Advanced poison ivy quiz: Advanced Poison Ivy Photos
Wow facts about poison ivy [For Adults]: Poison Ivy, Oak, & Sumac - Fast Facts


Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn, but a few are around during the day. With mosquito borne diseases being reported in MA, though they are NOT common in Lexington, it makes sense for teachers, Big Backyard walk leaders and students to take the following precautions if they are going to be outside. Kids need to know what they can do to enjoy the outdoors safely.

  1. Apply insect repellent before coming to school. There are some brands that last for hours. Read the directions on the repellent carefully. Insect repellent also repels ticks.
  2. Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt to minimize exposure of skin.
Recreational Activities and the Risk of Mosquitoes


(NOTE: Teacher with epi-pen must accompany children with a bee allergy on BB walks)

Fall is a time when wasps can be aggressive!

  1. On the playground, be careful near trash barrels where wasps are coming for food or sugary drinks. Never swat at a wasp. Calmly walk away from it (unless you accidentally step on a ground nest and in this case move quickly).
  2. Avoid flowery shampoo, or perfume.
  3. If you are walking off the playground area or off a path (fields, woods, etc.) be sure to "scout" the area first for wasp nests in the ground. Look for signs of wasps streaming into or out of a hole (looks like Logan Airport). Nests in trees are not so much of a problem.
  4. If a child is stung, bring him/her to the nurse immediately. Especially if this is the first sting, the nurse will want to watch for a possible allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling in the mouth, etc.). If a child has a known bee allergy, administer the epi-pen injection immediately. In the great majority of cases there is no allergy and ice helps.
Nuisance Wasps and Bees


Ticks can spread disease and are found at the edge of playgrounds, fields and in the woods. Though tick borne disease is NOT common in Lexington, it does exist, and it makes sense to:

  1. Take precautions as for mosquitoes above: repellents and clothing. Light colored clothing makes it easier to see ticks. If necessary to go into high grass or weeds, tuck pant legs into socks.
  2. Check for ticks after being outside. Before feeding, dog ticks can be the size of a small watermelon seed and deer ticks can be the size of the period at the end of a sentence. Both have 8 legs.

Knowing the type of ticks you are dealing with can be very helpful. What do you do if you have a tick on your body? No need to panic. Click here to see how to remove it safely.


Wear protective clothing as above, plus a hat. Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or more, especially when your shadow is shorter than you are (between approximately 10 AM and 4 PM).