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Oregon Family Magazine

‘Tween Teen- Proof Your Home

02/26/2010 18:51 ● By Anonymous
As parents we are always concerned about the safety of our children. When they were little we covered outlets, locked cabinets, and made sure they were wearing seat belts. As they got older, we taught them to dial 911 in an emergency and wear a bicycle helmet. As ‘tweens and teens, they still need our helping hands to keep them safe—perhaps now more than ever.

Here’s a teen-proofing list for you to use as a guide to keeping your ‘tween and teen safe at home.

Keep all Alcohol in a Locked Cabinet

Why:  Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to be involved in other risky behaviors and increase their chance of having problems with alcohol as adults.

What to do: Inventory and monitor any alcoholic beverages in your refrigerator.

Lock and Monitor all Over-the-Counter (OTC) and Prescription Medications

Why:  Prescription drugs are misused more by teens than any illicit drug, except marijuana; their misuse can lead to brain damage, poisoning, addiction and even death.

What to do: Only buy the medicines you need (preferably in limited quantities) and monitor quantity used. Clear out your medicine cabinets and properly dispose unused portions. Lock up medications when possible. Urge your friends and other family relatives to inventory and secure their medications as well.

Do the same inventory on common household cleaners, poisons and sharp objects

Why: These items can also be misused with dangerous consequences.

What to do: Look at the contents of your kitchen cabinets, garage, office, or anywhere in the house where cleaners, solvents and aerosols are stored. Monitor access and quantities for potential inhalant abuse. Monitor access to "sharps" such as razors, razorblades, exacto-knives, pocketknives, and syringes to ensure appropriate use and proper disposal.

Secure all firearms

Why: guns in the home increase the risk of youth accidents & suicide.

What to do: If possible, remove all firearms from your home; if not, make sure they are stored unloaded in a locked safe and/or with a trigger lock, separate from ammunition. Trigger locks are inexpensive; check with your local law enforcement agency which might provide them free of charge.

Monitor internet use

Why:  While the internet can be a valuable resource, it can also be an unsafe influence over your teen. Teens can order prescription medications online, meet adults posing as teens, and get information about dangerous misuse of over the counter medications as well as other “legal” substances.

What to do: Check your teen’s social networking page, such as “myspace” or ‘facebook” to make sure there is no identifying information that could endanger your teen. Check websites they use to see if they are engaging in online gambling. If so, block those sites from your computers. Place computers in open areas of your home (not in your teen’s room) so internet use can be better monitored.

Monitor Teen Parties

Why: Lack of parental supervision in planning and holding parties can invite unhealthy activities.

What to do: Use limited guest list by invitation only, avoid “open party”, and don’t use email to invite. Welcome calls from other parents, be sure to call parents “landline” if your teen is attending a party. Set clear rules ahead of time, such as no alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Report violations to parents. Limit party access to easily monitored areas of the house, make regular unobtrusive checks.

In addition to staying connected by attending activities they are involved in, having conversations with them on a regular basis, and listening to their problems, you can help your teen make healthy decisions by creating a safe and supportive environment at home.

By Sandy Moses, MS Lane County Health & Human Services, Prevention Program For more ideas about what parents can do to keep their children safe and healthy, visit the Lane County Prevention website at www.preventionlane.org