Staying safe in summer

Now that summer is in full swing, kids will have many extra hours of free time to text, use smartphone apps, and to go online for social networking.  While this can be fun, it can also put you at risk. Don’t post any information you wouldn’t wear on a t-shirt in public. During online chats you may think you know who is on the other end, but it could be a stranger with inappropriate intentions.  Do not meet a new “online friend” in person, unless you are with your parent or a responsible adult.  Report any suspicious communications with your parent or a responsible adult . If something seems wrong, it is, and it’s okay to tell someone.  Ask for help from someone in your home if you need too.  Ask your parent or a responsible adult for permission before logging on.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has great info for cyber safety – check it out with your adult – including the tween and teen info at www.nsteens.org.

Sometimes summertime can bring stress that’s hard to deal with alone. Help is available.  If someone you know is depressed and acting differently than usual, and you believe they are going to hurt themselves, call 911.  San Diego Unified’s SPEAK (Suicide Prevention Education Awareness and Knowledge) Program reduces misperceptions about mental health, and empower students to reach out for themselves, their families, and their friends.  San Diego County Mental Health Services serves children, adolescents, and families through referrals and a variety of programs.  For more information, call (619) 563-2750.  It’s Up to Us, www.up2sd.org, offers prevention and support resources in English and Spanish, and has a crisis hotline you can call, (888) 724-7240.

Remember to take care of yourself through summer with good and nutrition and exercise. Being healthy is being safe.  The San Diego school district and the city’s Park and Recreation Department is partnering to offer the “Summer Fun Café” that offers free, healthy meals for everyone under the age of 18.  There is no need to enroll, and no requirements to meet – just show up.  Lunches will be served Monday through Friday at the City Heights Parks and Recreation Center in the Urban Village between noon and 1 p.m. from July 23 – August 24.  Don’t miss “BBQ Day” on July 24!!!  There are also free breakfast programs, too, at several elementary schools.  Call 211 for more information, or check out www.211sandiego.org/SummerLunch.

Finally, the 4th of July has arrived, and some kids may be tempted to play with fireworks – even after the holiday.  Remember, fireworks are dangerous, not to mention illegal. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s Safety Tips website sums it up:

“There’s really only one thing you need to know about consumer fireworks: all consumer fireworks are illegal in the City and County of San Diego. That includes sparklers, firecrackers, cherry bombs, bottle rockets and even poppers.”

Officer “K” Carla Kuamoo, is a San Diego Unified School District police officer at Monroe Clark Middle School