By Marcus Fernandez
As teenagers grow up and start to explore the world on their own, it’s typical for their parents to be concerned about their safety. Parents can feel more at ease by teaching their teens how to stay safe when mom and dad are not around. Whether they’re going out with friends, traveling to new places, working at a new job, or attending summer school, there are certain precautions they can take to avoid danger.
June is “National Safety Month,” which makes it the perfect time for a summer safety guide. This guide will offer practical safety tips for teenagers exploring new-found independence. Hopefully, this will help your teen stay safe while giving parents peace of mind.
School’s out – safety tips for outdoor activities
Teenagers in Tampa Bay have the opportunity to actively participate in beach and outdoor activities. However, it is important for teenagers to take proactive measures in order to lessen potential risks associated with weather and other factors. Some of these precautions include:
- Check the weather forecast before a day outdoors: It may be bright and sunny right now, but you also want to know what is forecasted for later if you plan to be outdoors for several hours. Check the forecast and plan activities accordingly. In the event of a forecast predicting thunderstorms, it might be wise to choose safer activities over boating.
- Protect yourself from the sun: The Tampa area has a subtropical climate with strong sunshine that quickly burns exposed and unprotected skin. Apply sunscreen rated at SPF 30 or higher to all exposed skin. Don’t forget to reapply the sunscreen if you go into the water or are excessively sweating.
- Dress for the weather and activity: If hiking or engaging in other outdoor activities that will keep you in the sun most of the day, wear a hat with a wide brim that protects your face and neck from burning. If you anticipate being outdoors after sunset when temperatures drop, remember to wear or bring a long-sleeved shirt or jacket.
- Drink plenty of water: If you wait until you feel thirsty before drinking water, you risk becoming dehydrated. Unless you know that drinking water is available where you are going, bring it with you.
- Be aware of heat-related illnesses: Cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can turn outdoor activities into serious health issues. You may suffer from a heat-related illness if you develop muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, or rapid heart rate. Move immediately to a cool place and drink sports drinks to replenish salt and other nutrients. Severe heat illness may require emergency medical treatment.
- Use caution when swimming: Florida ranks third out of all states for teen deaths by unintentional drowning. Swim in areas with lifeguard supervision, but it’s still advisable to swim with a buddy, even if where you swim is a backyard swimming pool. Avoid diving unless you know the water is deep enough and submerged rocks and other hazards do not lurk below the surface.
When engaging in outdoor activities, it’s crucial to be mindful of constant dangers like dehydration and heat-related illness. Be proactive in maintaining proper hydration throughout the day, regardless of your level of activity. Also, don’t forget to regularly take breaks from the sun and heat.
Florida work rules teens and their parents need to know
State and federal laws in Florida protect teenagers who are younger than age 18 by barring them from doing certain types of jobs, including the following:
- Any work involving the use of explosives.
- Manufacturing bricks, tiles, and similar products.
- Logging or working in a sawmill.
- Meatpacking, slaughtering, and processing meat.
- Work requiring scaffolding, ladders, or working at heights above six feet.
- Operating power saws and guillotine shears.
Additional rules in the state add more work restrictions for teens who are 14 and 15 years old. These rules include prohibiting them from occupations involving the following activities:
- Loading and unloading trucks, conveyors, and railroad cars.
- Working in meet coolers and freezers.
- Operating, maintaining, or repairing machinery and equipment.
- Using, cleaning, or repairing powered slicers, grindings, choppers, cutters, and mixers used in the food industry.
- Transportation, warehousing, and construction industries.
Parents should check with employers to ensure that their teens are not doing dangerous work, regardless of whether the law prohibits them from doing those occupations. Parents also need to ensure that teenagers receive the proper training and safety equipment. It’s important to ensure they are in a safe and healthy workplace.
Safety while taking classes during the summer
Many Florida colleges and universities open their doors to high school seniors and juniors with programs designed to introduce them to the college experience. Parents and teens should learn about security on campus. This includes knowing the location of the campus security or police department office and how to contact them in an emergency. Some campuses have call boxes installed at various locations on campus for students to use. These are great if they need immediate police or security assistance.
If teenagers bring personal items, such as laptop computers, cell phones, and bicycles, parents should stress the importance of not making it easy for thieves by leaving belongings unattended. Parents can check with campus police for safety tips to reinforce to their teenagers before sending them to a summer program.
Safety tips for teen drivers
A teenager in Florida may obtain a learner’s permit at 15 years old and a driver’s license at 16. However, teens younger than 17 may not drive between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. When they reach the age of 17, they may not drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
To minimize the chances of accidents or receiving traffic tickets, teen drivers can adopt the following safety tips:
- Drive lawfully by obeying speed limits, maintaining distance, using signals, and avoiding aggressive driving.
- Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts.
- Avoid distracting behaviors, such as texting and talking on the phone, adjusting the volume or tuning the radio, eating, and turning to talk to passengers in the rear seat, to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving.
- Adjust your speed and distance between vehicles according to the weather. Rain, fog, or other inclement weather conditions require slower speeds and more distance between vehicles to offset limited visibility or increased stopping distances.
- Do not drive after consuming alcohol or taking drugs. Taking prescribed and over-the-counter medications before driving can pose risks as they often induce drowsiness or have other side effects that could compromise driving safety.
Parents should actively stress the dangers of riding with an impaired driver to their teenagers. Let them know you will provide a ride home if they are ever in that situation.
When accidents occur, contact a Tampa personal injury attorney
We hope these safety tips help keep you and your teenager safe this summer. When accidents happen because of other people’s negligence, the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire can help. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.