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PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Planning for a Safe Summer

Summer can be a fun time packed with activities. Whether at home or on a trip, summer is also a time to be wary of preventable injuries and hazardous conditions.

Sun Safety: Before heading for the beach, the park or even the backyard, take a few minutes to protect yourself and your family while having fun under the sun.

* Avoid needless exposure to the sun.

* Protect your eyes by wearing UV blocking sunglasses.

* Select shaded areas for outdoor activities.

* Clothing such as a broad brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants can protect your skin. Tuck a handkerchief under the back of your hat to help prevent sunburn on your neck.

* If you can't cover up, use a sunscreen containing a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. Verify it has both UVA and UVB protection. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours and after sweating or swimming.

* Some medications make skin more sensitive to UV rays. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

* Don't let infants or children play or sleep in the sun in a playpen, carriage, stroller, etc.

* Get children used to wearing sunscreen lotion, paying particular attention to the most exposed parts - the lips, face, neck, shoulders, back, knees and tops of feet.

* People can use both sunscreen and insect repellents when they are outdoors to protect their health. Follow the instructions on the packages for proper applications of each product. Apply the sunscreen first, followed by the insect repellent.

Reducing Risky Behaviors: Summer vacation. The kids are out of school and that means many young people have a lot of unsupervised time on their hands. Be proactive. Don't wait for a crisis to happen before you plan ahead to reduce the chances of your teens and pre-teens getting into trouble.

Remind your kids to wear sunscreen to prevent skin damage. Remind them about your family's safety rules and consequences to prevent risky behaviors, such as drinking, smoking, shoplifting and fighting. Don't ever assume that your child is not at risk. Even the best kids from the most loving families make mistakes. Keep talking -- they are listening. Parents DO matter.

Here are some tips to help your kids make it through the summer safe and sober:

* Establish a summertime curfew.

* Help plan activities to keep your child busy.

* Schedule time to do some fun things together as a family. This can be something as simple as going for a hike, visiting a museum or playing games together. Even eating dinner together is an important prevention strategy.

* Check in with adult supervisors, such as coaches and employers.

* Meet your child's friends, especially those that your child hangs out with regularly. Better still, get to know their parents and check with them about planned activities.

* NEVER serve alcohol to minors. It's against the law and puts you and the youth involved in potentially dangerous situations. Even if you don't provide the alcohol, if you are aware that a minor or anyone else has brought it to your home or social event and you allow it to be served, you are at fault. Work with your teens and pre-teens to plan fun, safe and sober events and make sure they are adequately supervised to avoid problems.

* Set some kind of check-in system, such as an established call time. If you have a teen at home, there is a new summer jobs program supported by Federal stimulus funding. Visit georgiateenwork.org and check out the program. Other work opportunities include internships or junior counselor positions at summer camps.

Taking a lifeguard course may allow a teen to find a job as a lifeguard at a local aquatics center and have one for many years to come. Check with your local Parks & Recreation Department or YMCA for lifeguard training courses. Volunteering is another important way for teens to keep busy, learn new skills and gain self-confidence. There are many opportunities to volunteer in Gwinnett. Contact the Coalition for Health and Human Services' Helpline at 770- 995-3339 for community service possibilities or contact other non-profit agencies or churches.

For more information about steps you can take to prevent underage drinking and other risky behaviors, please visit GUIDE's website, www.guideinc.org, or contact Ari Russell, Executive Director, at 678-377-4132 or ari@guideinc.org. GUIDE is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit substance abuse prevention agency.