With Memorial Day behind us, summer is unofficially here. Warm weather has arrived, college kids are home and high school graduation is nearing. Lots of reasons to celebrate, but also lots of reasons for caution. According to AAA, the “100 deadliest days of driving” fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with an average of 1,022  deaths, many involving alcohol. The summer is especially dangerous for teen drivers, as average car accident deaths for ages 16 to 19 are 16% higher than in other seasons.

Summer can be a risky time for teens in other ways. The carefree summer days bring less adult supervision and more unstructured time. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA), more youth try not only their first drink but also their first cigarette or joint during the summer months than at any other point during the year. According to SAMHSA, on a typical day in June and July more than 11,000 youths aged 12 to 17 will have their first alcoholic drink, 5,000 youths will smoke their first cigarette, and 4,500 will start using marijuana.

Parents are a critical line of defense in assuring that their own teen does not become one of these sad summer statistics. Parental disapproval is the No. 1 reason why teens abstain from substance use. What can you do? Discuss the dangers of substance use with your teen/young adult, and set firm and loving limits. Find more teen summer safety tips on the RPC Facebook page starting in June.

Remember to keep all alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and even toxic chemicals locked up to protect kids and teens.

It is easy to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs at the medication drop box, available in the Ridgefield Police Department lobby, 24 hours a day.

For more information, email coalition@ridgefieldct.org, call 203-431-1893, or visit the RPC Facebook page, facebook.com/ridgefieldpreventioncouncil, or website, ridgefieldpreventioncouncil.org.

Upcoming event: Free Narcan training, June 15, 7 p.m. at the Ridgefield Library.