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Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Safety Guide for Prom-Goers and Parents

The Prom!

Imagine prom night. Everyone is dressed to the max; there is great music in the air and the feeling of putting on that corsage on your date’s arm. It has all the makings for a great and memorable evening. Something everyone is bound to remember for years and years to come. Everybody is ready to celebrate! While everyone is making plans for the night, parents and prom-goers should make up back-up plans too.

Parents: Be Proactive

Prom season is fast-approaching and many parents are busy helping their teens gear up for one of the most exciting time in their teen's life. Often overlooked is the need for these preparations to include frank, specific, and honest discussions with teens about how to avoid alcohol or drugs and stay safe on prom night.

  • Encourage your teen to get a limo. This will reduce the chances of a teen driving drowsy and/or driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or over-the-counter medication. The fewer teens actually drive on prom night, the safer they will be. Having a professional take over the task? Better.

  • Talk about the risks and consequences of sex, drug and alcohol use. If you already have, why not another one? Studies show that it is important to talk about it often. It is important for parents to inform their teens about the possible regret of partaking in these activities. It is also important to help them understand the school's policy on alcohol and drug association and use.

  • Contact the parents of your teen's date. Make sure that they are comfortable with the planned arrangements for the night. Make plans to meet each other to take pictures of the couple or group. Discuss after-prom plans and make sure all parties involved are okay with it. (Avoid sleepovers or hotel room rentals.)

  • Communicate with the other parents of your teen's friends. Discuss the plans for the night, the hot spots and the need for locking up and inventorying all alcohol and prescription medication in advance. It reduces the chance of theft and takes the pressure off your teen from their friends. If a parent is hosting an after-prom party, parents have the right and responsibility to ask if they allow underage drinking. Underage drinking is illegal in any state. Another alternative is hosting an after-prom get-together or late night breakfast for your teen and their friends.
  • Have an escape plan for a bad situation. Discuss with your teen that unplanned and unexpected situations where they feel uncomfortable will eventually come up on prom night. Come up with a code word or text message they can send to alert you to help them get out of the scene. Make sure that you reinforce with them that it is alright to call in at any time for advice or permission, and that you will be discrete.

  • Set up times that they are to call and check in. These times could be when the prom is over, when arriving at an after-prom destination, or before heading home. Make sure to remind them to keep you notified of any changes in the plan.

Teens: Keep yourself safe and remind your friends to have a safe prom.

First of all, teens must understand that underage drinking is never acceptable. The fact is, during prom season, some parents choose to "look the other way," or say things such as “they’ll only be kids once.” It may be so, but the truth is that underage drinking is very dangerous. Many teens will be driving that night, which makes the combination of alcohol and lack of long-term defensive driving experience even more dangerous and may create consequences that turn a fun, memorable night a tragic one.

  • Limit the passengers to one. The risk of teens getting into a crash increases as the number of passengers increase.

  • Have the number of trustworthy cabs programmed on your phone. Have emergency cash to pay for these rides.

  • Make sure you have plenty of rest the night before. The thought of the prom may get a wee bit exciting, but make sure you have plenty of rest to be energized for it.

  • Think through and talk with your friends about pressure situations. Have a plan to handle them ahead of time.

  • Consider going for breakfast, bowling or seeing a midnight movie after your prom. These activities are fun, no doubt about it, and none of them involve alcohol or illegal substances.

Post-Prom Plan

Almost as exciting as the prom is the post-prom plan. Kids from school might be throwing a party, or they might plan on hanging out after the prom is done. These are prime chances and opportunities for teens to have exposure and access to alcohol. In the rush of things, teens may feel pressured into trying to "fit in."

  • Have your cell phone charged and with you at all times.

  • Eat a good breakfast and lunch on the day of the prom, to keep your energy up.

  • Never leave a drink unattended or accept a drink from someone else. If you have to leave your drink for even a moment, grab a new one.

  • Drive on well-lit roads and make sure that the vehicle is properly maintained. This means making sure there’s enough gas, and that there are tools that are available, should you experience a flat. Take an extra second before moving into intersections. Over 1,000 people are killed each year by red light runners.

  • Do not ride with someone who is fatigued or impaired in anyway. Make sure none of your friends do either. And should you encounter one, find out if they have friends or family who can drive home for them, or pick them up.

  • Wear your seat belt. 70% of teens killed on prom weekends are not wearing seat belts. (NHTSA, SADD)

  • At all times, know where you are, and know where you’re going. Make sure you also account for where your friends are, and that they and your parents know where you are.

  • If someone passes out, call 911. The fear of getting into trouble isn’t worth the risk of them dying.

  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable over any situation on prom night, something might not be right. Leave immediately.

  • Drive defensively on the road. Also, ask your passenger to be alert too.

Plan ahead, communicate, make good decisions and have a safe prom night!

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