The early arrival of warm summer weather in Washington County is welcome in most respects, but it also ushers in a heightened period of danger for our community’s young people.

Each summer, this newspaper is forced to report on tragedies involving teenagers and young adults who give too little thought to the consequences of innocent but careless actions. Warm weather multiplies the hazards for young people, who are drawn to rivers, lakes and the open road.

With time on their hands, teenagers in particular are more likely to take risks that can have lifelong consequences. Sadly, a single mistake — such as jumping into the icy waters of an outwardly calm river — can end a life or alter it forever.

Parents cannot change the impulsiveness of youth, but they should nonetheless impress upon their children what irreversible harm could come from a single moment of recklessness. They also can help their children find safer activities. This community, for example, has public pools where young people can cool off without risking their lives in the swift currents of a river or deep waters of a lake.

Of course, alcohol and drugs accelerate the dangers facing young people in the summer. Intoxicating substances pose their own hazards, including overdoses and addiction. But these substances also alter a person’s judgment, which in turn leads to poor decisions and potential tragedy.

The staff of the News-Times would like nothing more than to make this the one summer when we do not have to report on the accidental death or serious injury of a young person. As summer weather takes hold, however, the exuberance and spontaneity of youth will increase.

That makes this an especially important time for parents to remind their children of the dangers of the roadways and rivers — and of the inherent hazards that arise from youthful distractions.

Everyone, please take care out there.

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