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Posted on Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Tips to keep kids safe & healthy this summer: Home alone advice, talk about drugs early, and more

By Washtenaw County Public Health

Water, bugs and the sun are a few of the things kids experience more of in the summertime. For parents and others, extra vigilance is required to prevent injury and keep kids safe and healthy. Here are a few tips to help parents practice prevention, for their children's health.

Keep kids' safe — home alone

Every parent eventually faces the decision to leave a child home alone for the first time. Whether you are just running to the store for a few minutes or whether you are working moms and dads, parents need to be sure their children have the skills and maturity to handle situations safely. Children face real risks when left unsupervised. Those risks, as well as a child's ability to deal with challenges, must be considered.

Prevent cyberbullying

Youth can use electronic media to embarrass, harass or threaten their peers through email, a chat room, instant messaging, a website (through blogs) or text messaging. Increasing numbers of teens and pre-teens are becoming victims of this new form of violence. Like traditional forms of youth violence, electronic aggression is associated with emotional distress and conduct problems at school. Learn strategies for protecting children from this type of violence.

Keep your kids tobacco free

Despite the impact of movies, music, and TV, parents can be the greatest influence in their kids' lives. Talk directly to your child about the risks of tobacco use; if friends or relatives died from tobacco-related illnesses, let your kids know. If you use tobacco, you can still make a difference. Your best move, of course, is to try to quit. Meanwhile, don't use tobacco in your children's presence, don't offer it to them and don't leave it where they can easily get it.

Talk early and often about alcohol and drugs

Start having conversations about your values and expectations while your child is young. Your child will get used to sharing information and opinions with you. Knowing the facts will help your child make healthy choices.

Prevent teen dating violence

Did you know that in the past 12 months, one in 10 teens report being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once? And nearly half of all teens in relationships say they know friends who have been verbally abused. Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, and report binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fighting and current sexual activity. Before violence starts, a teen may experience controlling behavior and demands. That's why adults need to talk to teens now about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships.

Develop a family disaster plan

Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team. Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case

Prevent too much sun

Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Kids don't have to be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors.


Washtenaw County Public Health wishes you a healthy, happy and safe Fourth summer vacation. We can be reached at 734-544-6700.


Milton Shift

Fri, Jul 8, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Most importantly, be honest with your kids. If you tell them that if they have sex they'll immediately get pregnant/get a STD, or that if they smoke pot or drink alcohol they'll get brain damage and fail all their classes and wind up homeless, they won't take you seriously on anything. They're always smarter than we think... and will appreciate your honesty.