Full-on summer arrived last week in Washington County and what that means — beyond hot grills and cold drinks — is an increased level of danger for the community’s younger population.

Summertime can be a joyous season of abandon for children, teens and young adults. But that sense of warm-weather liberation also can lead to reckless behavior capable of changing, or ending, a person’s life in an instant.

In our communities, the hazards include the cold waters of the Wilson and Tualatin rivers, Gales Creek and Hagg Lake.

Thanks to the Gaston Rural Fire Department, the lake has become a safer recreational destination in recent years, but parents should still be monitoring young swimmers and checking in with teens who head out for an unsupervised day on the water.

Parents also should be aware that the summer months bring a heightened risk for use of drugs or alcohol among young people. According to a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, teenagers are more likely to start smoking marijuana in June or July than in any other month. Those two months also are among the highest for first-time use of alcohol.

During the summer, kids are free of school-related responsibilities and they have less adult supervision than during other months of the year.

It’s naturally a time for experimentation and impulsiveness, but parents and other adults can lower the risks by increasing awareness and by staying in close touch with those who are most likely to make poor choices and turn a summer of fun into a summer of anguish.

Contract Publishing

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