Last year, my daughter tested positive for Lyme disease — and she wasn't alone. Each year, more than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease.  

I can tell you from firsthand experience — hearing that your child has Lyme disease and must take some rather potent medications to [maybe] get rid of it, is a pretty stressful experience. So is watching your normally feisty 7-year-old struggle to lift herself from the couch.

So before you or your kids head outdoors this summer, take a few precautions to keep the ticks and other biting bugs at bay. If you're going on a hike in the woods or other tick-prone area, wear long sleeves and long pants. Even if it's a hot day, lightweight clothing will help to protect your skin from ticks as well as sun exposure. And don't be afraid to use insect repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that natural repellents made with lemon eucalyptus oil are as effective as DEET at repelling bugs.  

And whether you've been in the woods, the local park, or just your backyard, it's a good idea to do a thorough tick check before bed, paying careful attention to prime hiding spots like armpits, the groin and the scalp. If you find a tick, remove it immediately with fine tip tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Watch out for tell-tale Lyme disease signs (like a bull's eye rash) or other symptoms such as itching, swelling or infection. Check with your health care provider if you are in any way concerned about a tick bite site.

Also on MNN: Natural, effective mosquito repellants

Talking ticks
How to protect yourself and your family from Lyme disease.