By Officer Dane Hjelden, Ben Franklin Middle School
Summer is right around the corner and students are looking forward to a break from school, vacation, and activities the warm weather and free time have to offer. While this is the dream time of every teenager, this is a scary time for some parents. During the summer, the rate of accidents where teens are involved goes up 40%, with alcohol and substance abuse rising by more than 70%. Here are a few 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 or who they are talking to? What are the passwords to their online accounts? Did you know the video games they play have chat areas or online live talk? 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 darn near do 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 using it for.
Water safety: You and your child 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 lake in a boat, remember to wear life vests. We cannot control when accidents happen, so 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 an accident. This also applies to canoeing, jet skis, water skiing, or tubing behind a boat.
Driving: On the road for a vacation or to the lakes…make sure your child is wearing a seatbelt! I hope there is an annoying alarm in their cars like I do that rings every 30 seconds when you don’t have a seat belt on. Wear them—they save lives. No texting and driving. It’s not illegal on this side of the river, yet, but it makes good safety sense. The more distractions in a car, the higher the probability of an accident. If your child is driving on the Minnesota side of the river, remind them to not text or talk on their cell or they 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? Nothing will end summer fun faster than getting caught by the police drinking or using drugs. Not only will your child face criminal charges, but they have now broken that bond of trust with you. That will result in them being closely monitored and probably limited on the places they can go. It doesn’t make them more fun or macho or cool; it pretty much just screws everything up in their life. Don’t let your child give up what could be the greatest, coolest summer of their life by doing something stupid like using drugs or alcohol.
Summers are meant for our kids to enjoy, we all smile when we see the kids laughing and having a good time while doing it safely. Let’s enjoy our summer safe and smart! See you next school year!