LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Summer is here and so are ticks, so the Kentucky Department of Public Health is giving tips on how to protect yourself.

Ticks can transmit serious and potentially deadly illnesses including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Experts suggest a four-step approach to avoiding ticks: Protect, Check, Remove and Watch.

First, protect yourself by avoiding where ticks live, like wooded areas, tall grasses, and woodpiles. Wear tick-repellent when you go outdoors along with protective clothing including light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants that are tucked into your socks.

Make sure to check yourself and others for ticks, after spending time outside. It is best to use a hand-held or full-length mirror. Ticks like to hide under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs around the waist and especially in and around hair. Be sure to check your pets and any gear you carry.

If possible change clothes and shower after being outside. You can tumble dry clothes on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks. If you need to wash clothes, hot water is recommended for killing ticks.

If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible-- by using tweezers to grab and pull the tick off. Don't jerk or twist the tick. After it's removed, experts say wash the spot with soap and water and to watch for symptoms of tickborne illness. Those include a sudden fever or rash, nausea, or severe headaches

Experts say don't use alcohol, matches, liquid soap or petroleum jelly to remove a tick. To get rid of a tick, submerge it in alcohol, put it in a sealed bag/container, wrap it tightly in tape or flush it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Watch for any symptoms of tickborne illness, which can be different person to person. A sudden fever and rash, severe headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea can be signs of tickborne illness. Symptoms can come weeks after a tick bite. But consult a doctor and tell them about the bite, when it happened and where.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on ticks and tickborne illness online. 

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