As the summer gets in to full gear, Texas teens are finding ways to entertain themselves that could be dangerous to their well-being. The best strategy to keeping your child safe is to be aware of the alarming trends facing […]
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Keep Your Teens Safe From Summer Temptations

by Jessa McClure on July 18, 2014

in Safety

teensAs the summer gets in to full gear, Texas teens are finding ways to entertain themselves that could be dangerous to their well-being. The best strategy to keeping your child safe is to be aware of the alarming trends facing this “invincible” generation, and to help your teen see the dangers before it’s too late.

The Cinnamon Challenge

Log on to your favorite internet video site and you will see dozens of people taking what is called the “Cinnamon Challenge.” It is a dangerous new game where teens gamble their health in order to win a bet. While it may seem funny to your teen, this hilarious antic can pose a serious threat to their health.

“The kids are daring each other to swallow spoonfuls of the powder without water and then the cinnamon coats and dries and causes gagging, choking and throat irritation,” said Susan Burchfield, CPS-T, Scott & White Trauma Outreach and Injury Prevention Director.

This seemingly harmless stunt could be exposing your teenager to a very serious injury, especially if they are already prone to asthma or another type of respiratory issue.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Center’s National Poison Data System, in 2012 over 220 calls were made to poison control centers around the country because of the intentional misuse or abuse of cinnamon by teens between the ages of 13 and 19.

“This is the kind of thing that, as a parent, you don’t even think about it until someone says ‘oh, by the way, if your child is buying cinnamon you should check that out,’” Ms. Burchfield said.

Alcohol Poisoning

With school over for the summer and teens looking for an exciting way to let off some steam, many young people are seeking the dangerous excitement of drinking alcohol.  But too much of a good thing could put your child in serious danger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 800,000 deaths are attributed to excessive alcohol use each year, making it the third leading cause of lifestyle-related death in the nation.

“Alcohol poisoning occurs when you absolutely drink more than your body can tolerate,” Ms. Burchfield said. “You can become unconscious and even die if not saved.”

And most teens don’t know how much alcohol is going to put them over the edge. Binge drinking is defined by the CDC as a woman who drinks more than four drinks during a single occasion or a man who drinks more than five drinks in a single occasion.

And if you are pregnant, taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, suffering from a chronic medical condition or planning to drive, you are at an even bigger risk of harm from the over consumption of alcohol.

Energy Drinks

Some teens believe that forgoing the alcohol and picking up an energy drink is a safer option, but they could be deadly wrong.

According to Pediatrics, more than 5,000 caffeine over-doses reported in 2007, 46 percent of those occurred in people younger than 19-years-of-age.

“We’ve got kids who are using these energy drinks that have large doses of unregulated caffeine,” Ms. Burchfield said. “They could develop an irregular heartbeat and other dangerous side effects from these types of drinks.”

The study in Pediatrics found that energy drinks are consumed by 30 to 50 percent of adolescents and young adults. The use of these drinks could be especially dangerous for young people who have seizure disorders, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavioral disorders.

What can parents do to keep their teens safe?

The best method for keeping your child from harm’s way is to be aware of what they are doing, who they’re with and what their intentions are when they leave your home, the trauma prevention director said.

“Sometimes the parent and the child can have a code word,” Ms. Burchfield said. “If the child calls and says the code word, the parent can insist that the child comes home now. This allows the child to use their parents as an excuse to leave a dangerous situation.”

And there are other ways for teens to make sure they not only get home safely, but other teens do as well.

“There was a 9-1-1 life line law Texas passed in 2011,” Ms. Burchfield said. “Basically, the law says that even if you’re in a situation where someone has consumed enough alcohol to cause serious injury or death, call 9-1-1, cooperate with EMS, stay on the scene and they will not charge you even if you are underage.”

The idea behind the law is to motivate teens to do the right thing and save a life.

For more information on keeping your kids safe from danger, visit the Safe Kids Mid-Texas site.

Do you have a plan to help your child get out of a dangerous situation? Share your ideas below.

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