It’s summer, it’s sizzling, and the temperature’s not the only thing rising.
Underage drinking rises, too. With summer here and school out, youth have a lot more free time on their hands, a lot of it unsupervised. In fact, summer is a high-risk season compared with almost all other times of the year. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the summer months show the highest occurrence of first-time alcohol use among young people. Data from SAMHSA’s 2004–2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also show that the highest occurrence of first-time alcohol use (13.1 percent) occurs during July.
It’s no coincidence that during June, July, and August, the greatest number of teenagers die in car crashes, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Summer time is also the time teens spend more time outside sun-bathing, biking, swimming, diving, skateboarding, boating, and getting behind the wheel. And because alcohol can cause disorientation and an overestimation of one’s ability to perform these activities, it’s important to share the following issues related to underage youth, alcohol and outdoor activities with your community:
Alcohol can also impair:
- Balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are intensified by sun exposure and heat.
- Vision and decision-making skills. It can reduce the ability to distinguish and interpret colors, especially red and green, which clearly are important in safe driving and other means of transportation.
Time to take action!
Here are some ideas and steps you and your community can take to help make summer safer for everyone.
For parents and caregivers:
Underage drinking is less likely to take place when parents and caregivers monitor teens. Simply put, unsupervised youth have more opportunities to experiment with risky behaviors.
And when it comes to summertime parties …
Don’t Be a Party to Teenage Drinking
(From the Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth, with funding from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services and from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention)
Just a few helpful party-planning steps that can help parents and caregivers avoid disaster:
- Help make the guest list, and limit the number to be invited. Send personal invitations to avoid the dangers of “open parties.”
- Put your phone number on the invitation, and encourage calls from other parents to check on the event. Think about inviting some of the other parents to help during the party, to help you ensure that no alcohol or drugs are present, and to help ask uninvited attendees to leave.
- At the party, limit access to a specified area of your property. Make sure plenty of food and soft drinks are available. Make regular, unannounced visits to the party area throughout the evening.
- If your teen is attending a party at someone else’s home, call the parent to verify the details and to ensure that adults will supervise and no alcohol will be served.
- Know how your teen is getting to and from the party. And be aware when your teen arrives home. Seeing and kissing your child good night is one way to detect if alcohol or drugs were used.
- If you are going away for the weekend or on vacation and plan on leaving your teen home alone, be direct and set clear expectations, ground rules, and consequences if you think your teen might be tempted to host a party. Notify your neighbors, and ask them to keep an eye out—and leave the phone numbers that should be called in the event of a problem or an emergency.
- Talk to your kids, and make sure they know you are concerned for their safety and do not condone underage alcohol or drug use or their use of a motor vehicle after any use of alcohol or drugs.
- If you are hosting a party for your teen this summer, keep it alcohol free. Remember Parents Who Host Lose the Most. Adults who serve alcohol to underage youth, or who are aware of it being served to underage youth on their property, may be legally responsible and liable for all of the destructive and deadly damage that results.
For you and your community:
Advise adults to provide water and nonalcoholic beverages for everyone included in summer outings and recreational events, not just for youth. Ask partners in your community to promote this idea.
- Increase awareness of your community’s laws on alcohol use in public places. Support enforcement.
- Collaborate with beach, park, and recreational facility administrators to establish effective policies on alcohol and safety.
- Urge your community and colleges to provide alcohol-free locations where students can meet with friends. Communities are designating parks and recreational areas as alcohol free—share this information.
For retailers in your community:
Retailers play an essential role in reducing access to alcohol by underage youth, specially during summer months when there’s more unsupervised free time. They can take steps to make sure that teens can’t buy alcohol from their stores, and they can serve as a source of information to reduce the possibility that alcohol legally sold to an adult will end up in a teenager’s hands.
We Don’t Serve Teens
This Web site offers tips for reducing young people’s access to alcohol. (Federal Trade Commission)
Alcohol Retailers Can Help Reduce Teen Drinking
This printable Web page recommends practices for retailers to help prevent underage drinking and to help reduce the chances of adults buying alcohol for teenagers. (Federal Trade Commission)
Taken from this website directly: http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/townhallmeetings/article_summersizzling.aspx