Tips for a Safe 4th of July Weekend
Jun 15, 2011
Did you know that underage males are twice as likely to go to the emergency room for an alcohol-related visit over the Independence Day Weekend?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) looked at data from the 2009 Independence Day weekend, when the holiday fell on a Saturday. It found that between July 3-5 there was a daily average of 622 ER visits by males related to underage drinking, up from the typical average of 304. Visits for females related to underage drinking saw a much smaller rise, to a daily average of 320 over the holiday weekend instead of a typical 273.
Peter Delany, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA, says the numbers take into account both visits because of alcohol itself, such as excessive drinking, and accidents and mishaps where alcohol played a factor.
Spikes in visits also occur during other holidays, Delany says, especially those happening when students are not in school and the holiday is observed over a weekend. Independence Day 2011 fits all those criteria.
At public or community events where alcohol may be present, it's important for systems to be in place that keep alcohol out of underage hands, Delany says.
"If the parents aren't going to be there monitoring, make sure who's monitoring access," Delany says.
Parents must also establish clear expectations for teens and spell out consequences if those expectations are violated. Delany says having discussions early and often is best. "If you go to this party my expectation is that you behave and don't drink or do drugs," Delany says.
The SAMHSA website on underage drinking suggests several small talks on alcohol between parents and children are better than one major conversation. Communicating to teens that parents are willing to pick them up if their ride starts drinking helps as well, Delany says.