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Flag 2Memorial Day weekend is here! The unofficial start of summer has finally arrived and people across Oklahoma are gearing up for a weekend of cooking out, trips to the lake, and hopefully time off from work. This weekend also marks the beginning of the 101 Critical Days of Summer. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, more mishaps occur because people are more likely to get outdoors and participate in higher risk activities such as boating, water skiing, and motorcycling. In fact, the summer months have proven to be more hazardous to teen drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 1,000 people were killed in auto-related accidents during the summer months of 2012 and more than 500 of those killed were teens. Causal factors included distracted driving, horseplay, and underage drinking. Of course, teenagers on the road is not the only hazard during the summer months.

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There are many contributing factors to the accidents that occur during the summer. Dehydration can lead to many heat-related mishaps, lack of sun block can lead to extreme sun burns, and improper use of or neglecting to use life preservers can lead to drowning. Alcohol is also a major factor contributing to mishaps during the summer months, especially for teenagers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), teenagers are more likely to have their first alcoholic beverage during June and July than any other month. Summer vacations, parties, and trips to the lake are the more common places teens gain access to alcohol. The major problem, besides being illegal, is that teens lack the ability to regulate their alcohol consumption which leads to binge drinking. Binge drinking is when men have more than 5 drinks and women more than 4 drinks in about a two hour period. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 90% of the drinks consumed by people under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinking. The scary thing is binge drinking can quickly result in alcohol poisoning which may lead to hospitalization and even death. A 2010 CDC report showestomach pumpd there were more than 189,000 emergency room visits by persons younger than 21 involved in alcohol related incidents. We need our communities to come together to prevent our teens from having access to alcohol and to encourage them to stay away from it this summer.

 
Here are a few ideas to help keep our teenagers safe and sober this summer:

  • Talk to your teenagers about the effects of alcohol.
  • Be engaged with your teenagers and discuss their plans for the summer. Be involved during this summer. Plan family vacations and family stopdrinkingoutings.
  • Encourage an open relationship with your kids. Try to avoid scare tactics. Send clear messages about the consequences of drinking but allow for open ended conversations. Let your kids know you care about their perspective.
  • Monitor your teenager’s behavior. Team up with other parents and community organizations to help keep track of your teen’s whereabouts. Know the signs of alcohol abuse and seek help when needed.

 

  • Set a good example for your kids. If you drink alcohol, be sure to drink in a manner in which you would want your kids to drink when they are adults.

Prevention specialists from Eagle Ridge Institute want to encourage you to do your part in making this a safe and exciting summer. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a prevention specialist at (405)840-1359. Have a fun, exciting, and safe summer!

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