Summer vacation is a time for fun and relaxation, but it can also be a dangerous time for kids and teens. A break from school means more freedom and many homes with little or no supervision. This can create situations ripe for experimentation and risk taking.
During the summer months, car accidents spike for teens and many involve intoxication. In addition younger kids are at risk for accidents as they skateboard, bike, swim and play. Here are some tips to help you keep your kids safe this summer.
Out of sight, out of mind
A newly released report notes that the #1 cause of overdose deaths in King County is not illegal drugs, it’s prescription medications. For parents this means getting rid of your old medication (check your local pharmacy). Lock up other medications and remember it’s not just your child, but also their friends who may search through your medicine cabinet while visiting. Also, store alcohol in a locked cabinet.
A phone call is all it takes
If you work, make it habit to call your children at least once a day. Try to make the conversation a friendlier one rather than a check-up call. And ask them to call before they leave the house to tell you where they will be. Many parents set a good rule that there can’t be friends over or visits to friend’s houses without an adult present.
It’s always a good idea to review safety rules with your kids, from using a seatbelt, to wearing a helmet when biking, or a life vest near water. And remind them to be cautious of cars, but remember that you, too need to be aware of kids. Many accidents happen right in the family driveway. This is also a good time to talk about drugs, alcohol and sex and set clear expectations and consequences. Kids are less likely to participate in a behavior they know their parents disapprove of.
Make a list
If you have older kids, help avoid the “coming home arguments” with lists. It may seem simple to remember a few chores, but teens in particular are often absent minded. In your list include chores, studying, hygiene items, and let them know upcoming family plans or menu options they should be aware of. You can also make suggestions for fun – like what’s playing at the local theater or a festival/concert in a nearby park.
Most of all, remember to take a break and enjoy summer activities with your kids. Take in a concert in the park, a hike or maybe take a picnic to a local lake or beach. Spending time together builds stronger foundation for kids, which makes for wiser decision-making when apart.
Patti Skelton-McGougan is executive director of Youth Eastside Services. For more information, call 425-747-4937 or go to www.youtheastsideservices.org.