Once all the graduates have received their diplomas and thrown their mortar boards in the air, it’s time for some summer fun. But wait, before you run out the door, I have a few pointers to help keep your kids safe this summer.
The fact is: busy kids are safe kids. When kids are out of school, studies show they are at greater risk for becoming victims of violent crimes. They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors like smoking, drinking, or doing drugs.
With summer vacation starting this weekend, now is the time to think of productive activities for your kids to participate in, activities designed to keep them healthy and safe.
If your kids just want to stay at home—to watch movies, eat snacks, play video games, and maybe read a little (if you’re lucky), remember that staying at home can include some risks.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children as young as nine or ten years old may be left home alone for brief periods, if the children are comfortable with it. However, before you allow a child to stay home, be sure to share these tips:
• Instruct your child on how to reach you or a trusted adult (write the phone numbers down).
• Review possible scenarios your child could face and explain how to handle them (e.g., what to do if the phone rings or the electricity goes out or someone knocks on the door).
• Explain how to call 911 and write down the information the dispatcher is likely to ask for: your child’s full name, address, etc.
If you are not yet comfortable leaving your kids at home, don’t worry! Ukiah has plenty of great opportunities to keep kids safe and having fun.
One of the best is the recreation programs offered by the City of Ukiah. The Recreation Department’s motto is, “Parks Make Life Better.” For kids, the Summer Safari Program and City of Ukiah Municipal Swimming Pool truly do make life better (and safer) for hundreds of kids each summer.
The Summer Safari Day Camp offers activities like crafts, sports, drama and more for kids ages 6 to 12 years old. The program is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. For families that can’t afford to attend, the recreation department can provide assistance through a scholarship application process.
Along with Summer Safari, the City Pool offers a fantastic way to keep kids busy and out of trouble. The pool’s public swim hours are Monday through Friday 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In addition to the open public swimming hours, the pool offers a variety of swim lessons and aquatic fitness classes. Knowing how to swim allows kids to be safe around water and provides them with a great way to exercise. Each summer, the pool has more than 11,500 visits, and more than 800 kids and adults participate in swim classes.
Another option for weekday fun this summer is the Ukiah Boys and Girls Club, which provides a wonderful place for school-age kids to learn and grow, all while having fun. A small club membership includes summertime supervision, allowing kids to spend their days filled with engaging activities. If you would like more information about the Boys and Girls Club, visit www.ukiahbgc.org
While many kids with time on their hands make good choices, some don’t. We’d all like to think our kids know better and won’t succumb to peer pressure or curiosity, but filling their time with positive activities reduces opportunities for risky behavior.
Remember, busy kids are safe kids–especially during the summer.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.