One of my favorite parts about living on the SouthCoast is the vastly different landscapes in this region of Massachusetts. From the waterfront property in Westport, Dartmouth and Marion to the city scenes in New Bedford and Fall River, to the farmlands of Rochester, Dighton and Rehoboth, the differences are stark.

Aside from the obvious city neighborhoods, much of the SouthCoast is set in wooded areas.  These woods are great for hiking and creating natural privacy for neighbors, but they are a very real problem for tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease.

While you can contract Lyme disease at any time of year (whenever snow isn't covering the ground), we are entering the months of the year when most people are spending more and more time outdoors. Whether it is watching your kids play sports at the field, or raking up the yard for a spring clean-up, you need to know that the SouthCoast is a hotbed for Lyme disease.

According to the Mass Department of Public Health, here are some tips to keep your family safe from Lyme:

1.  Spray yourself with tick repellent before spending significant time outdoors in wooded areas.

2.  Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to reduce exposure to ticks.

3. Walk through cleared trails instead of thick, wooded areas.

4.  Outfit your pets with tick repellent collars or monthly medicine.

5.  Find out the long and short-term symptoms of Lyme disease here on the Massachusetts government website.

6.  If you live in a thick, wooded area, you may want to consider a professional spray service for your yard.