The summer is almost here, and the kids are looking forward to a break from school, a vacation, or other activities warm weather and free time have to offer. While this is the dream time of every teenager, this is the nightmare time for most of the parents. I have to say that parents have the right to be worried. During the summer the rate of accidents where teens are involved is 40% higher. Alcohol and substance abuse rises by over 70%. Let’s talk about some summer safety tips that you can talk with your child about before that summer free time arrives.
Internet Safety: Chances are your child will spend a lot of time this summer chatting with friends online or playing video games. Do you know who they are friends with? Do you know who they are talking to? Do you know the passwords to their accounts online? Did you know the video games they play have chat areas or online live talk? If you don’t know these things, you should! Internet predators, scam artists, and even a friend of a friend can result in your child’s safety being compromised. Be aware of what your child does on the computer, who they are talking with and who their friends are. Video gaming systems are the things that generally parents think are safe. They have an Internet connection just like a computer, and can do nearly anything a laptop or desktop computer can do. Don’t think because it’s designed to play games, that it’s the only thing the kids are doing on it.
Water Safety: You and your children should be aware of their swimming capabilities. Strong swimmers must know their limitations, while weaker swimmers should stay in shallower waters without current. When out on the lakes in a boat, remember to wear life vests. If your boat capsizes or you are tossed out, you may not be conscious and able to swim to a safe location. A life vest will keep your head out of the water preventing drowning. This also applies to canoeing, jet skis, water skiing, or tubing behind a boat.
Driving: On the road for a vacation or back and forth to the lakes…WEAR THOSE SEAT BELTS!!! (I hope you have an annoying alarm in your car like I do that rings every 30 seconds when you don’t have a seat belt on.) Wear them…they do save lives. No texting and driving. It’s not illegal on this side of the river…yet….but makes good safety sense. The more distractions in a car, the higher the probability is of an accident. If you’re on the Minnesota side of the river, no texting or talking on your cell or you may subject to being pulled over. Limit the number of people your kids can have in the vehicle. The more children inside the car, the higher the percentage of an accident occurring.
Drinking, Drug Use, and the Partying Scene: Everyone wants to have a good time and enjoy their summer, right? But nothing will end summer fun faster for a minor than getting caught by the police drinking or using drugs. Here are some important points to bring up in conversation if you haven’t had this one yet:
- Not only are criminal charges at stake, but trust, to which personal freedom is attached
- Drinking and drug use is potentially life altering, and is, worst of all, potentially deadly
- This could be the coolest and/or most fun summer of your life – why risk that?
Summers are meant for our kids to enjoy. We all smile when we see them laughing and having a good time. Let’s enjoy our summer safely and smartly!
(By Dale Stoll, School Resource Officer, South Campus II)